You may be suffering from a condition called selective sound sensitivity syndrome (misophonia), which involves extreme reactions to certain sounds. You might find yourself reacting strongly to mouth sounds, such as “ahhs” after drinking, crunching ice, gum chewing, popping gum, nail-biting, silverware scraping teeth, spitting, and talking with food in your mouth. To alleviate your symptoms, you might mimic the sounds you associate with irritation.
People suffering from hyperacusis, or increased sensitivity to sounds, often experience pain or discomfort when listening to loud noises. They may also experience a feeling of fullness in their ears or tinnitus. In some cases, the sensitivity to sounds may become so extreme that daily activities are impossible. For some people, the sound of their own voice is unbearably loud. This condition is not diagnosed by a physician but can affect daily activities, such as going to work.
People suffering from misophonia find certain sounds irritating, or even unbearable. The symptoms of misophonia can range from mild irritation to full-blown misanthropy. They may even avoid certain environments, such as restaurants because they find certain sounds to be too much for them to bear. However, treatment for misophonia is limited. People with misophonia should consult their doctor if they experience the symptoms of this disorder.
The symptoms of misophonia include extreme reactions to certain sounds, including certain types of mouth noises. For example, when drinking water, “ahhs” are often heard, as are sounds from chewing gum or crunching ice. Other common triggers include spitting, tooth brushing, and even talking while food is in your mouth. This type of sensory overload may cause an individual to feel out of control and intolerant of noise.
The severity of the reaction to sounds that irritate you depends on the source, frequency, repetition, and loudness of the sound. You can also experience other types of distress, such as anger and panic, when you hear certain sounds. Treatment for sounds that irritate you can include techniques for reducing stress, learning to respond differently to stressful situations, and studying the real sensations you experience. Moreover, a psychotherapist can help you identify your specific feelings, such as anxiety or anger.
If your hearing sensitivity is not a result of a medical condition, your GP may refer you to a hearing specialist. However, it is important to note that some conditions can result in hyperacusis, such as head injury, migraine, and Lyme disease. For these conditions, treatment for sounds that irritate you will focus on improving insight, reassurance, and protection of the ears.
While cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t a cure for misophonia, it can help improve self-control and reduce angry behavior. It has been shown to be effective, especially in children. It helps misophonia patients to separate trigger sounds from their emotional reactions and train their minds to focus on something else. However, the most effective treatment for sounds that irritate you will be one that can address the cause of misophonia.
Mimicking irritating sounds
If you suffer from misophonia or an uncontrollable aversion to sound, you may be familiar with the technique of mimicking irritating sounds. This unconscious response to an unpleasant sound is helpful in handling an uncomfortable situation. In some cases, it can even help a person feel better. It is not known why some people with misophonia are able to mimic certain sounds, but some people may find that it helps them to deal with the distress that is the cause of the sound.
This condition usually begins in the early teenage years and can progress to three or more irritating sounds. The sufferer may also develop an intolerance for repetitive movements and fidgeting. Eventually, the patient develops a compulsion to mimic these sounds. In 2010, a major textbook recognized misophonia as a nervous system disorder. Symptoms can range from mild to severe conditions.