Misophonia Evaluation and Treatment

Do you experience certain sounds that don’t bother anyone else around you but trigger an over-the-top emotional response in you? If this is the case, you could be experiencing misophonia.

Man suffering from misophonia - hatred of sound
Misophonia icon

Misophonia, which literally means “the hatred of sound,” can trigger reactions ranging from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee. Sometimes called selective sound sensitivity syndrome, misophonia is relatively rare but may affect up to 20% of the population to some degree.

The over-the-top reactions that typically accompany misophonia have the potential to destroy relationships, leading to self-isolation, depression, anxiety, and other physical and mental disorders. Because of its similarities to hyperacusis and how the brain filters sounds, the condition is of particular interest to audiologists and its treatments are often similar to those used to manage tinnitus and hyperacusis.

If you’re struggling with misophonia, you may be wondering, “Is there someone who can evaluate and treat misophonia near me?”

Utah Ear Institute has you covered. Our hearing care professionals at our Bountiful, Tooele, Park City and West Valley City hearing and balance clinics understand your frustration with misophonia and can help provide answers and solutions to help manage it.

Misophonia and Its Causes

Misophonia is a relatively rare disorder that afflicts certain people and makes particular sounds nearly unbearable to them. It causes those who are triggered by certain sounds to experience increased sweating and a racing heart, cause anger or rage, or have the urge to flee from the sound.

While doctors aren’t sure of the exact cause of misophonia, many believe it relates to how your brain processes and reacts to sounds. Sometimes confused with other conditions, such as hyperacusis, anxiety, bipolar, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, it can occur with hearing loss or normal hearing.

Although a specific cause has not been identified, misophonia has unique characteristics, such as:

  • It tends to appear between the ages of 9 to 12.
  • Severe symptoms are more common among females.
  • Initial triggers often come from a parent or family member, but new triggers can develop over time.
  • It has a genetic component.
Woman suffering from misophonia looking terrified
A patient not being able to handle sounds covering his ears

Because your ears are normal and your hearing is OK, the doctor may have trouble with a diagnosis, especially since it can occur on its own or along with other health, developmental, and psychiatric problems.

Those at a higher risk of developing misophonia also have conditions such as:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Tinnitus
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Misophonia Signs and Symptoms

Typically recognized by its main symptom, a strong negative reaction when hearing triggering sounds, misophonia can also include mild symptoms like anxiety, discomfort, disgust, or the urge to run away from the sound, but severe symptoms can include:
  • Rage
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Emotional distress
Those experiencing misophonia may begin to anticipate triggers causing them to avoid restaurants or eat separately from their spouse, family, roommates, etc. Over time, those with the condition may begin to respond to visual triggers as well.
A human triggered by sounds

Frequently Asked Questions about Misophonia

Is misophonia common?

Misophonia, which literally means “hatred of sound," is a relatively rare disorder that afflicts certain people and makes particular sounds nearly unbearable to them. While relatively rare, up to 20% of the population may have some degree of misophonia.

Can misophonia be treated?

Although there is no cure for misophonia, it can be managed by using various counseling techniques like tinnitus rehabilitation therapy (TRT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), relaxation techniques, sound therapy, and other forms of therapy.

Will misophonia go away on its own?

No. Misophonia is a lifelong disorder that does not go away, but it can be managed through various forms of treatment.

How do you develop misophonia?

Misophonia is a conditioned behavior that develops as a physical reflex through classical conditioning, with a misophonia trigger (e.g., eating noises, lip smacking, pen clicking, tapping, and typing …) as the conditioned stimulus and anger, irritation, or stress as the unconditioned stimulus.

What triggers misophonia?

Triggering sounds can vary pretty widely from person to person but may include:

  • chomping or crunching
  • slurping
  • swallowing
  • loud breathing
  • throat clearing
  • lip smacking
  • sniffling
  • writing sounds
  • pen clicking
  • rustling of papers or fabric
  • clocks ticking
  • shoes scuffing
  • glasses or silverware clinking
  • nail filing or clipping
  • mechanical humming and clicking
  • birds or crickets chirping
  • animal grooming sounds

What to do if I have misophonia?

Because it can become destructive to your relationships as well as lead to isolation, depression, anxiety, and other physical and mental disorders, you should consult a hearing care professional if you suspect you have misophonia.

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Misophonia evaluation and treatment at Utah Ear Institute

Misophonia Evaluation
and Treatment

There are currently no established diagnostic criteria for misophonia, and the condition is not recognized as an official diagnosis. However, proposed characteristics of misophonia that are useful in its evaluation include:
  • Anticipating that a certain sound will result in irritation, anger, or disgust
  • Feelings of anger initiating a loss of control
  • Avoidance of known triggering sounds or tolerating these sounds with extreme anger, discomfort, or disgust
  • Significant distress that interferes with normal daily activities
  • These feelings are not better explained by another mental disorder or medical condition

You should discuss this condition with your audiologist during a comprehensive hearing assessment, which is used to rule out and/or identify hyperacusis, tinnitus, hearing loss, and other disorders with similar characteristics.

Although there is no defined cure for misophonia, several types of therapy, which are often used in the management of tinnitus and hyperacusis, have shown success in the management of misophonia, including:

This treatment is a modification of tinnitus activities treatment, which seeks to help the patient recognize the relationship between the loudness of a sound and his or her reaction to it. The same approach uses shared decision making rather than directive counseling to evaluate thoughts and emotions regarding triggering sounds.
Initially developed to treat tinnitus, TRT uses a combination of broadband noise and counseling to treat misophonia. The counseling presumes that central auditory gain is the primary mechanism of misophonia, which leads to feelings of fear and/or annoyance from sound, and then applies directive counseling.
CBT is conducted by a psychologist and can be an effective supplemental treatment. When applied to misophonia, CBT is similar to the counseling that accompanies Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. The common theme in these approaches relates to changing maladaptive thought patterns in order to change behavior patterns. Using CBT for misophonia, the emphasis is on confronting sound rather than avoiding sound.
On the other hand, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) involves learning to manage emotions through techniques such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.
Sound therapy techniques that can help manage the emotional response to triggering sounds may include:

  • Using noise-canceling headphones
  • Listening to music, calming sounds, or white noise
  • Distracting yourself with a calming mantra or affirmation

To make this most effective, the person experiencing misophonia would use headphones that do not completely block outside sounds so that they can still hear over the ambient noise. The goal is to add background sounds to your environment and avoid silence so that triggering sounds are not as loud or blend in with the white noise sounds, making them less intrusive.

Schedule a Misophonia Evaluation

If sounds like crunching, slurping, swallowing, lip smacking, and/or sniffling trigger anxiety, anger, discomfort, or the desire to flee, you may need to seek help for misophonia. Fortunately, the professional doctors of audiology at Utah Ear Institute have the experience and expertise to evaluate and help you manage misophonia issues.

To get the relief you need and help protect your relationships from the destructive consequences of misophonia, just submit the adjacent form so a member of our team can give you a call and help you start the process by scheduling a misophonia evaluation.

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