Can’t stand the sound of slurping? One in five of us suffer from a condition that makes common noises unbearable – including throat clearing, knuckle-cracking and kissing
- Common sounds such as coughing and sniffling can negatively affect one in five people
- People with the condition are more likely to report anger or fear through sounds
While sniffling, coughing, and slurping are sounds that most of us barely notice, for others such sounds are enough to make you physically cringe.
Misophonia is a condition that causes a strong negative response to common sounds, from clearing the throat and cracking the knuckles to couples kissing.
And it’s more common than you might think, with research showing the condition affects up to a fifth of us.
Dr. Jane Gregory, from the department of experimental psychology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘The experience of misophonia is more than just being irritated by a sound.
‘Misophonia can cause feelings of helplessness and entrapment when people cannot escape an unpleasant sound.
Misophonia is a condition that causes a strong negative response to common sounds, from clearing the throat and cracking the knuckles to couples kissing (stock image)
“People with misophonia often feel bad about themselves for reacting the way they do, especially when they respond to sounds from loved ones.”
Dr. Gregory has released a new book, Sounds like Misophonia, in which she explores what’s behind the phenomenon and how she can help those affected.
Speak with The guardshe said, “My goal is for people to actually experience some change as a result of the book.”
Dr. Gregory was inspired to write the book after she led a study in March which found that misophobia affects up to a fifth of us.
The research identified participants for whom the condition is a ‘burden’ on their lives – although only those with an extreme problem need counseling to help with this.
The researchers used a questionnaire to assess the triggers, reactions and intensity of response of 772 participants.
The scientists also identified red flags for misophonia for those wondering if they have it.
The study, which included 37 common noise triggers and 25 different responses in the questionnaire, found that people without misophonia tend to feel irritated by certain sounds. But the reactions of people with misophonia are more intense and they are more likely to report anxiety, anger or panic (stock image)
Concept image showing the causes of misophonia, which refers to becoming irritated by sounds other people make, rather than actions
They found that if a person is stressed while breathing and swallowing normally, this indicates that he or she has the condition, as these sounds do not bother the majority of the population.
Experts say people with misophonia often experience a fight-or-flight response to sounds, which can trigger anger and the need to escape.
The sounds can include people rustling, chewing gum or sneezing, as well as sounds such as ticking clocks and car engines.
The study, which included 37 common noise triggers and 25 different responses in the questionnaire, found that people without misophonia tend to feel irritated by certain sounds.
But the reactions of people with misophonia are more intense and they are more likely to report fear, anger or panic.
The study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that misophonia significantly affected 18.4 percent of people.
However, only 2.3 percent thought they had the condition, and only 13.6 percent had heard of it.
The analysis showed that misophonia was equally common in men and women.
The average age of people with the condition was found to be 43 years.
Dr. Silia Vitoratou, one of the authors from King’s College London, said the research showed that ‘most people with misophonia do not have a name to describe what they experience’.
People with misophonia may have a ‘hypersensitive’ brain connection, research shows
People who react extremely to certain sounds, especially loud chewing and breathing, may have a “hypersensitive” brain connection, a 2021 study found.
Scientists from the University of Newcastle discovered increased connectivity between the auditory cortex and the motor control areas associated with the face, mouth and throat in people suffering from misophonia.
The findings suggest that misophonia is a “manifestation of activity in parts of the motor system involved in producing those sounds,” according to the study published in the journal The Guardian. Journal of Neuroscience.
Scientists from the University of Newcastle discovered increased connectivity between the auditory cortex and motor control areas associated with the face, mouth and throat in people suffering from misophonia
Misophonia has long been considered a sound processing disorder, but findings from the University of Newcastle suggest it is much more than that.