Sniffing. Coughing. Chewing. Tapping. Crinkling. 

All of these sounds have two important things in common: they're usually sounds we don't pay attention to, and they're also sounds that are a misophonia sufferer's worse nightmare. 

It might not be recognized by the DSM-V (although it's been suggested to fall under "Obsessive Compulsive Disorders") and Google seems to believe it's a misspelling of "saxophonist," but misophonia is a real disorder that many struggle with throughout their lives. But what really is "selective sound sensitivity syndrome," and what can be done to treat or prevent it?

What Is misophonia?

Imagine that you had someone poke your shoulder for the rest of your life, with no particular pattern or frequency. At some points, you'd likely forget that someone was even there. For sufferers of misophonia, it's quite the opposite.  

Misophonia, as defined by Misophonia.com, "is a condition in which a person reacts extremely negatively to certain sounds that most people take little or no notice of."  

These sounds can range from coughing, to yawning, to singing, to clocks ticking, to cars beeping, and the list goes on. There isn't any rhyme or reason to what can trigger misophonia - triggers are individual to the person experiencing them. Although, it may be of note that eating and breathing sounds are the most-reported triggers according to this case report in 2016

People with misophonia often report feeling some sort of negative emotional response upon hearing these unpleasant sounds. This can be mild uneasiness to full-blown panic attacks or mimicking the sound. 

Dealing with Misophonia

Misophonia isn't easy to manage. It can have relatively large impacts on daily life, and may lead to sufferers isolating themselves to avoid the harsh sounds that cause them pain. While there may not be a current cure for the disease, there are treatment options and resources available for those suffering from it.

There are many online support groups for misophonia, with a full list here. Certain areas of the United States have treatment clinics available, in which psychological and sound-based therapy are used. You can find a comprehensive list of providers here

There is also an annual Misophonia Convention that has run since 2013 for misophonia sufferers to come together and learn about the disorder and coping mechanisms for it. The 2017 convention is coming up in mid-February, and you can find more information here.

There may not be a definitive solution to misophonia at the moment, but the future looks bright for solving the disease. So, think again before you decide to tap a pencil or chew loudly!

Misophonia isn't easy to manage. It can have relatively large impacts on daily life, and may lead to sufferers isolating themselves to avoid the harsh sounds that cause them pain. While there may not be a current cure for the disease, there are treatment options and resources available for those suffering from it.