“That is the problem with this condition: you go from absolutely fine to feeling as though you are under attack in a matter of seconds. And then you have a fight or flee response.”
Misophonia; what is it? How does it develop? Is there a cure? While it is still a relatively recent identified condition, there are many people all over the world sharing this frustration and coming together with websites, Facebook pages and even conferences.
So what is Misophonia?
Misophonia is described as a strong aversive response to specific sounds. You may have heard it being termed as “hatred of specific sounds.” Some of the more commonly spoken about sounds that trigger Misophonia include
- eating (lip smacking and swallowing)
- breathing (nostril noises and sneezing)
- hand sounds (typing and pen clicking)
When someone has Misophonia, they find it hard to tolerate these specific sounds. The range of response or reaction is broad from irritation to disgust and anger to rage.
To give you an idea of what it’s like to live with Misophonia, we thought it was best coming from people who have suffered this condition for many years.
Misophonia at home
“In the past, I attempted working at home (when I lived in an apartment) and that was the absolute worst. I felt trapped in my space and assaulted by the noise.”
For Misophonia sufferers, you can feel trapped in your home. Trigger noises can come from neighbours. However, you could be affected by one neighbour and not the other.
Living in apartments and townhouses can be torture and can create social problems when your neighbours think you are being unreasonable for asking them to keep the noise down.
“No one wants to be the complaining neighbour. So in the past I’d often wait until breaking point until I said anything and I’m sure they either thought I was high-maintenance or just nuts.”
Misophonia in the workplace
“A person talking noisily on the phone in the office next to mine would bother me. But my husband talking on the phone in an adjacent room in our home wouldn’t. I think there is an emotional component at play.”
Open plan offices can be extremely uncomfortable for workers who have Misophonia. Furious keyboard typing, slurping, chewing noises and loud voices are some of the obvious triggers. However, you might only be affected by one specific sound.
“I have worked in open-plan areas in the past when I worked for big and small companies (I’m a graphic designer, and many design spaces are open plan) and never had a problem with the sound of typing. Though I have seen others flip out at the woman in the office with long fingernails due to her noisy typing… but I didn’t notice it at all.
Misophonia while travelling
Whether you’re travelling for leisure or work, Misophonia can make it difficult when it comes to staying in hotels. While most of us are judging our accommodation based on the size of the pool or the location convenience, Misophonia sufferers have something else to prioritise.
“I spend a huge amount of time reading trip advisor reviews to try and determine if the walls and floor in a hotel will be thick enough that I’m not bothered and on edge all the time.”
“I find noises bother me much more at night. Probably because it feels like I can’t escape. During the day, I can get out and do something. At night, I feel trapped by the noise.”
How do Misophonia sufferers cope?
To many sufferers, it has been a problem with no solution for many years. Neuroscientists are yet to find a cure however there is some progress on finding ways to cope with it. A lot of people devise their owns ways of coping with specific sounds which include;
- Noise cancelling headphones
- Classical music
- A fan
- White noise machine
- Ear plugs
“I’ve considered seeing an audiologist. My GP gave me the name of one and it is something I need to make happen.”
How Affordable Hearing Audiologists can help
Misophonia often goes hand in hand with Tinnitus and effective treatment may take over 12 months. The slow & gentle introduction of sound is critical for treatment of Misophonia as well as counselling.
Treatment options may include:
- Hearing Aids
- Audiological Counselling
- Seeing a Psychologist
- Seeing a Neurologist
- Medications to reduce Anxiety under GP/Specialist Supervision