What is Misophonia?

Misophonia is an extreme sensitivity to certain sounds that can result in distraction, pain and adverse reactions. This disability can limit the individual’s ability to concentrate, think, learn and interact with others.

 

What is a Misophonia reaction?

When a Misophonia person hears a trigger sound, they have an extreme and uncontrollable reaction, often of anger and disgust. They have an unrealistic powerful need to stop the sounds. It leads to frustration, anger, and sometimes rage. Emotions are built up and do not have a release mechanism. Rage, fury, frustration, and inability to cope are built up to an explosion point. These reactions are NOT volitional – the person with the Misophonia can truly not control these extreme reactions.

 

What Causes Misophonia?

We are unsure of what causes Misophonia. Research has found that about 40% of people with Misophonia, have a relative with similar sound sensitivities.

 

What are trigger sounds?

Trigger sounds are sounds that cause distraction, pain and/or an adverse reaction. Trigger sounds are not the same for every person with Misophonia. The most common triggers are mouth sounds like chewing and heavy breathing. Sometimes only certain people will trigger the individuals. For example, the individual can not eat dinner with their younger sibling but they can eat with their friend.

 

Will my child outgrow this?

Our experience indicates that people do not outgrow Misophonia. At best, we see that individuals learn how to make accommodations for it like finding professions that allow them to work in areas with few triggers. Unfortunately, we often see individuals that have to isolated themselves for extended periods of time to avoid triggers.

 

Do ear plugs or earphones help?

Ear plugs and earphones, while sometimes giving temporary relief, create more harm than good. The brain realizes when sound is reduced and, if reduced for long periods of time, tries to increase the volume within the brain. We call this central gain. The perception of loudness becomes distorted. The brain becomes used to softer volumes all around and then normal sounds heard without hearing protection are perceived as too loud. The brain, always on the lookout for the trigger sounds, kicks into overdrive, creating a situation in which a person will unconsciously search more intently and become even more sensitive to trigger sounds.

 

Does exposure therapy work?

Exposure therapy DOES NOT WORK. It may work for other sensitivities often treated by psychologists or occupational therapists, but it only creates pain and anguish for the Misophonia sufferer with no benefit.

 

What are treatment options?

Audiologists treat Misophonia using a three pronged approach: (1) Reduce the impact of the trigger using sound generation with devices which DO NOT OCCLUDE THE EAR CANAL. Sound generation comes from white noise generated within the devices and from streaming. (2) Stop the central gain of the trigger sounds by allowing the brain to experience the triggers which become a part of the sound generation, reducing the alerting signals from the limbic system. (3) Learn to control the brain’s focus and start to rethink the meaning and impact of the sounds and create new neuronal connections.

 

What are sound generators?

Sound generators are devices that are worn comfortably all day long on/in the ears without occluding, or stopping up, the ear canal. They have the ability to generate white noise on their own, the frequency response and volume controlled by the patient, and to stream from iPhones, iPods, iPads, and some Android phones, completely controlled by the patient, all day long. To fit these criteria, we fit specific hearing aids that have low level amplification technology but high end streaming and sound generation capabilities. These are the ONLY instruments which fulfill all the needed requirements.

 

What about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or other forms of counseling?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be of great value. It can help patients rethink the sounds and how they can react to them. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is best when used in conjunction with sound therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy does not address sound generation and reducing the impact of the trigger sounds. Sometimes families need counseling due to the disruption Misophonia can cause within the family. Why does one child get to listen to music at the table when the others don’t? Why is one child special and pushes around siblings or gets “special treatment?” An audiologist, while trained in treating Misophonia, is not able to address family dynamics or other special needs of a patient in this regard. We work with other health professionals when necessary.

 

Can Misophonia be cured?

We do not have evidence of a “cure” for Misophonia. The studies simply have not been done. People with Misophonia have been told in the past that, “Misophonia is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. We will help you learn to live with it.” However, audiologists in clinics across the country have patients able to live life without constant sound generation after 3 to 4 years of therapy. This is not a guaranteed outcome, and while is not reached with every patient, it is our goal.

 

Will insurance cover the costs?

Insurance coverage depends totally upon your policy. It must be determined on a case by case basis. While we certainly will help you, the policy holder has the most access and rights to determine coverage than we do as providers of service.