What Is Misophonia?

Have you ever had to walk away in disgust from someone who is smacking their gum? Or perhaps hearing someone's heavy breathing after they've just labored up three flights of stairs causes you to panic? It may come as a surprise to find out that having a strong emotional reaction to specific sounds is actually a medical condition called misophonia.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, it is nearly impossible to find out how much of the population is affected by this condition. Many who identify with this disorder don't realize that it can affect their mental health and are often too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about it. Common sounds that are normally triggers for this condition are breathing, chewing, or yawning. WebMD states that it can also be triggered by repetitive motions and sounds such as keyboard tapping, someone fidgeting, or the sound of the windshield wipers.

Symptoms range from mild to severe

WebMD says that those who have this condition have reported having mild emotional reactions such as feeling disgusted, anxious, or uncomfortable. And those who have more severe symptoms reported feeling hatred, panic, or rage from the triggering sounds. Dr. Barron Lerner, a doctor and NYU professor who has misophonia, explains to Healthline that, in a word, trigger sounds feel awful. "Like your blood is starting to boil. [There are] lots of anxious feelings, like heart racing and stomach ache."

Though there is little research on the condition, doctors believe it is both mental and physical and could be related to how sound affects your brain. Misophonia usually appears in your early teens and is more common in women.

While misophonia is a lifelong disorder, there are luckily a few treatment options, notes Healthline. Tinnitus retraining therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and counseling have all shown to be effective in teaching those with misophonia how to cope with their condition. If you have noticed you feel overly sensitive to specific noises and it is preventing you from being social, then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the right treatment options for you.