BENGALURU: Misophonia, a strong reaction to specific sounds, is a perception of what most of us consider a normal sound as either terribly irritating or so extreme that they cause anxiety, frustration, and anger because they are hurtful. It is a strong and negative reaction to ordinary sounds, like chewing, breathing, slurping, tapping, crunching and so on.
Any perfectly normal sound can trigger misophonia. It is being recognised since 2000, but is not listed as a condition in the medical manual. But yet, it affects around 20% of the population. A study found that around 80% of the sounds are related to the mouth, like eating, slurping, chewing or popping gum, whispering, etc and around 60% were repetitive. It is also called 'The hatred of sounds' which usually begins at the age of 13 and worsens over time.
Mostly women in the 10-20 age group tends to suffer from this condition. The patients have key characteristics in extreme reaction, such as anger against people making the noises. The reaction of each individual may vary where some might experience irritation, while others might get into a full-blown rage.
People with misophonia realise that their reaction to sounds is highly reactive, and their intensity of feeling can make them lose control. Adding to their emotional responses they might also experience physical reactions, including muscle tightness, blood pressure, increase of body temperature etc.
Dr Satish Nair, a senior consultant, head and neck surgeon, Apollo Hospital, says, “There is no specific reason as to why it happens. In some cases, it can also be auditory hallucinations. In others, it has a psychological condition connected to it where sufferers might hear each and every sound as irritating where they become reactive and over time may feel that they are losing control over themselves. It is better for patients to ignore these irritating sounds or engage in a workout or yoga. In some extreme cases, they will have to go for some counselling which might help them ignore the noise that irritates them.”