Can Hearing Aids Help If You Have Misophonia?
Misophonia, a hatred of particular sounds, is a phenomenon not yet fully understood by scientists.
However, it appears to be a neurological - as opposed to a psychological – condition. Certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses others may consider unreasonable.
This sensitivity to sound activates in the presence of specific triggers that vary from person to person. Common stimuli include people chewing, breathing, and swallowing, fidgeting, and repetitive sounds such as computer keyboards and windshield wipers, and sounds originating from nature.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Misophonia?
The Misophonia Institute offers practical guidance to distinguish the condition from other related ones:
- If loud noises upset you more than quieter ones, you may have sensory processing disorder that affects how you hear, see, touch, taste, and smell.
- You may also just be more likely to be a sensitive person if persistent sounds like traffic and people shouting upset you.
- You also may perhaps be suffering from phonophobia if you dread hearing certain sounds or even think about them.
If there are some sounds you cannot tolerate even if they are soft, and your response boils over to irritation, anger or even disgust, you may be displaying Misophonia symptoms.
Researchers Schröder, Vulink, and Denys investigated the condition in 2013. They suggested classifying it as a separate psychiatric disorder so medical professionals could treat it accordingly. Here are the clinical indicators they deduced from their research:
Proposed Diagnostic Criteria for Misophonia Courtesy of Public Library of Science
More About This Little Understood Condition
There are no evidence-based cures for Misophonia according to Wikipedia. It suggests, possibly, treating the condition using cognitive behavioral therapy whereby those affected recognize what they are experiencing and develop coping strategies that help them become less aware of the irritating sound(s).
WebMD provides advice on a more practical level, by discussing two ranges of affliction:
PEOPLE WITH MILD REACTIONS may experience discomfort, anxiety, disgust, and or a wish to escape.
PEOPLE WITH SEVERE REACTIONS are more likely to burst out into anger, hatred, or rage - or alternatively panic, fear and experience emotional distress.
Can I ‘Catch’ Sensitivity to Sound from Someone
There’s no evidence Misophonia symptoms transfer between people like a virus or bacteria. However, they may have a social knock-on depending on the particular sensitivity to sound.
If the fear is of loud conversations, then the affected person may decline invitations to eat out in restaurants, or even insist on eating alone at home, because the sounds of knives on plates cause them to lose their cool.
Misophonia may come on naturally as people age, although the condition can also develop in children as young as nine to thirteen. WebMD reports it is commoner among girls, and may come on quickly although it is unlikely to be a response to a particular event.
How Doctors Confuse Misophonia Symptoms
Researchers Schröder, Vulink, and Denys hoped the medical profession would classify sensitivity to sound as a separate psychiatric disorder, so medical professionals could treat it accordingly, however, doctors and even some audiologists still think the condition is partly physical, and partly mental.
If a hearing test does not throw out anything unusual, they may even confuse it with anxiety, bipolar or obsessive-compulsive disorder which of course it is not, although it can coexist with other health, developmental, and psychiatric problems.
The Current Consensus on Sensitivity to Sound
The condition may be due to a dysfunction of the central auditory system in the brain, according to Wikipedia. Apparently, this section of the cortex is more sensitive to triggers, particularly in the parts responsible for long-term memories, fear, and other emotions. And so, perhaps we are dealing with dysfunctional neural pathways with which the brain deals with familiar things.
So What Should I Do If I Show Misophonia Symptoms?
We touched on developing cognitive behavioral therapy countermeasures, whereby we train our brain to adapt to coping mechanisms, as some studies suggest for managing tinnitus.
Personal counseling can be repetitively expensive. Could hearing aids help with Misophonia? It’s not that far-fetched, but please note that this is not medical advice.
Hearing Aids Are Not Cures for Misophonia But They May Help
People who wear hearing aids learn they can drown out annoying sounds (like television advertisements) by turning down the volume. They can do this because sounds entering their ears pass through their hearing aids, yes, even the raucous cries of seagulls flying overhead.
We’re not for a moment suggesting a pair of affordable hearing aids by Blue Angels will solve your sensitivity to sound. However, if you purchase them because you are hard of hearing, you might be able to quieten next door’s yapping dog from the comfort of your home included in the price.