Selective sound sensitivity syndrome is a chronic medical condition in which the affected individual has exacerbated emotional reaction to a particular sound. It is also called misophonia, which literally means hatred of sound. A person suffering from misophonia upon hearing specific sound trigger may react in different ways. Some may feel annoyed while some may become anxious and fearful. Simple chewing, lip smacking, snoring, clicking of pen etc can bring about rage, anger, fear etc in the sufferer.
The exact cause is not known, but it is believed to be caused due to an increase in autonomic sensitivity to certain sound triggers.The disease can worsen patient’s social life as they start to avoid situations, places, people etc. Treatment consists of change in lifestyle, medicines to reduce anxiety and depression. Attempts are made to make life easier for the patient with the help of counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy.
What Causes Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome?
Selective sound sensitivity syndrome can affect people of all ages, but it is more prominently observed in young girls as compared to males of same age group. The exact cause of this condition is not known, but it is believed to have an increased risk in people having preexisting hearing problems, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
The affected patient has an increased autonomic response to certain sounds as compared to normal person. In such people over activity is observed in a part of brain that deals with emotions and analysis of external and internal stimulus. This may result into heightened dislike or hatred towards certain sound.
There are several triggers for misophonia such as snoring, chewing, lip smacking, teeth grinding, loudly clearing throat, yawn, whistling etc. In fact it can develop from any type of sound.
Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome Symptoms
Selective sound sensitivity syndrome or misophonia begins when a person hears some form of sound trigger. It is often a response to the oral sound such as whistling, yawning, chewing with mouth open, breathing etc. The symptoms trigger when a person hears certain sound to which there is no reaction in a normal person. On hearing these sounds the person may become anxious, uncomfortable, may have an urge to go away from the place so that he may not be able to hear the disliking sound.
More severe symptoms include anger, rage, hatred, panic or fear from the sound. The symptom intensity in some person is so severe that on hearing the sound he may desire to slap the opposite person or may try to hurt him. Some people may have suicidal thoughts. All the above abnormal features can disturb regular life of the person. He begins to live isolated from social life. He begins to avoid places and people so that he may not hear such sound.
Treatment For Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome
Treatment of selective sound sensitivity syndrome depends on how severe the symptoms are. Normally the condition has no permanent cure; however, all necessary steps can be taken to give relief to the patient from the disabling symptoms. One of the foremost things necessary is to make change in the lifestyle. The affected person can use ear plugs whenever he feels the sound is going to affect his emotions.
Distraction from the triggers is another great way to reduce the emotional outburst. Low intake of caffeinated drinks and stress management techniques are beneficial largely in reducing the severity. Some time anti depressant may be beneficial, but in majority of cases doctors avoid it. Instead they prefer to recommend counseling and behavioral therapy for the patient.