Misophonia, also known as selective sound syndrome, is a strong dislike for specific sounds. It’s often an oral sound and starts with a trigger. It could be the sound of chalk on board, the noise someone makes when they chew food, breathe, yawn, or whistle. Sometimes it can be triggered by a small repetitive motion such as when someone fidgets, jostles you, or wiggles their foot.
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If you have a mild reaction, you might feel:
- The urge to escape
If your reaction is more severe, the sound might cause:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Emotional distress
- A desire to stop whatever is making the noise
- Skin crawling
The disease can affect your social life, making you avoid restaurants or eat separately from your spouse, family, or roommates. It might make you physically or verbally attack the person who’s producing the sound.
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How Do You Get It?
The condition is lifetime and usually starts between the ages of 9 and 13 and is more common among girls. It comes on quickly, but isn’t related to any one event.
Doctors are not certain what causes misophonia, but it’s not a problem with your ears. They believe it’s part mental and part physical. It could be related to how sound affects your brain and triggers automatic responses in your body.
Your doctor may trouble diagnosing misophonia, if your ears and hearing are normal. Misophonia is sometimes mistaken for anxiety or bipolar or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some doctors think it should be classified as a new disorder.
How Do You Treat It?
The condition affect daily life, but you can learn to manage it.
More than a dozen misophonia clinics around the country offer sound therapy combined with psychological counseling. The doctor sets up background noises to counter your trigger sound.
You might try a device like a hearing aid that creates a sound in your ear similar to a waterfall. The noise distracts you from triggers and reduces reactions. Other treatments include taking antidepressants talk therapy.
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Your lifestyle also plays a vital role. Get regular exercise, enough sleep, and manage your stress. You can also wear ear plugs and headsets to tune out sounds. Set up quiet areas or safe spots in your home where no one will make the noises that bother you.