What is misophonia?

“Miso” is Greek for hatred or aversion while the equally Greek “phonia” stands for sound. Thus, misophonia concerns an intolerance of certain sounds such as dripping taps, keyboard typing or the chewing of chewing gum. Apart from other situations, the listed sounds can cause those affected to become extremely irritable.

Also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, misophonia is a neurological problem where the central nervous system confuses sounds with other stimuli. A person suffering from misophonia is incapable of ignoring irrelevant sounds and concentrates on the unpleasant situation which causes irritability.

While such incidences concern inconspicuous sounds they often cause serious interpersonal problems. Due to the fact that the sounds in question become unbearable to the affected person, they might even attack the emitter. This is why sufferers often avoid leaving the house.

Depending on the degree of misophonia patient reaction to unpleasant sounds vary from light to medium to serious. The main symptoms of this condition include:
  • unreasonable reaction to common sounds;
  • desperate attempts to leave uncomfortable places;
  • irrational irritability;
  • moodiness;
  • fits of rage;
  • insulting person emitting sounds.

What is phonophobia?

This condition is characterized by a fear of or rage when hearing certain sounds – in extreme cases, misophonia is often categorized as phonophobia. In such situations those affected may suffer a nervous breakdown, start to sweat heavily or develop palpitations – for instance when hearing cutlery touching plates.

The fear of loud noises such as honking cars, alarms, sirens, fireworks and traffic noises in large cities fall in the same category. Signs of phonophobia include:
  • panic attacks;
  • nervous breakdowns;
  • palpitations;
  • heavy sweating;
  • stress;
  • nausea;
  • dizziness;
  • mysterious physical pain;
  • passing out.

How can these illnesses be treated?

Irritability can also be a result yet misophonia and phonophobia are illnesses that cannot be cured by treating one’s ears. Despite that you should consult an audiologist. In the course of treatment, exposure therapy for sounds or Tinnitus can be administered.
Phobias are fears that develop subconsciously. Irritability towards everyday sounds is therefore caused by irrational fear. This is why a multi-disciplinary approach provided by a team of speech therapists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists is required. This illness cannot be cured but adequate treatment can allow sufferers to deal with their condition and maintain quality of life.
As stated earlier misophonia and phonophobia are conditions that cause irritability towards sounds but not hearing issues. Despite this it is paramount to consult a specialist who can assess the situation and initiate treatment when detecting early symptoms. This allows sufferers to get their fears under control and live a healthy life.