Misophonia = hatred of sound

By Dr. Mercola

Many people cringe when they hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard. This reaction, which can feel almost physically painful, gives an example of what people living with misophonia deal with every day.

Misophonia means “hatred of sound,” and it’s a condition in which normal, everyday noises cause extreme emotional and even physical distress. The sound of a person chewing, breathing or yawning may act as a trigger.

Other often-intolerable sounds to people with misophonia include the sound of someone fidgeting or tapping their fingers, but virtually any noise — from dripping water to crinkling plastic — can lead to significant discomfort.

Those Affected by Misophonia Often Suffer in Silence

It was only relatively recently — around 2000 — that misophonia was given a name. Husband-and-wife research team Margaret and Pawel Jastreboff reportedly coined the term misophonia,1 which is sometimes referred to as “mastication rage”2 as well as selective sound sensitivity syndrome.

In 2013, a study involving 42 people with misophonia revealed that many similar symptoms and experiences were shared among the group.3 For instance, the triggering stimuli were all sounds produced by humans.

Sounds made by animals did not typically cause distress, nor did sounds made by the patients themselves.

The most offensive sounds included:

  • Eating-related sounds like lip smacking
  • Loud breathing or nose sounds
  • Typing on a keyboard or pen-clicking

In some cases, even watching a visual trigger, such as someone eating or rocking their leg, was enough to trigger misophonia symptoms. Negative reactions were felt immediately upon witnessing the trigger. This included:

  • Irritation
  • Disgust
  • Anger (with some patients becoming verbally or physically aggressive as a result)

Patients reported feeling a loss of self-control. They knew their aggressive reactions and feelings of disgust toward the noises were excessive and unreasonable, but felt they could not help it.

As a result, all of the participants said they would actively avoid triggers by wearing headsets or earplugs or avoiding social situations.

In addition to causing social isolation, many people with misophonia feel daily stress because they’re anticipating coming into contact with a trigger. (Misophonia is believed to be distinctly different from phonophobia, which is a fear of loud noises.)

What Causes Misophonia?

Misophonia is not related to a problem with your ears but rather is related to how sound affects your brain. The Jastreboffs described it as an “abnormally strong reaction … of the autonomic and limbic systems resulting from enhanced connections between the auditory and limbic systems.”4 They continued:

“Mechanisms of misophonia could involve enhancement of the functional links between the auditory and limbic systems, both at the cognitive and subconscious levels.

Alternatively, tonic high level of activation of the limbic and autonomic nervous systems may result in strong behavioral reactions to moderate sounds.”

People with misophonia have described that symptoms began during childhood in association with disgust felt when they heard family members chewing (the average age of onset is 13).

Some have also noted that people with misophonia tend to show traits of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). The definitive underlying causes of misophonia remain a mystery, however. Researchers wrote in PLOS One:5

“One can imagine a process of recurrent conditioning following these repetitive annoying events that eventually results in misophonic symptoms or avoidant behaviour.

…  Another hypothesis is that OCPD predisposes to misophonia … there appears to be an obsessional part, the focus and preoccupation on a particular sound, and an impulsive part, the urge to perform an aggressive action.

Both aspects should optimally be explained within one single causal model, which currently is too ambitious.”

Tinnitus, Misophonia and Hyperacusis May Be Related Conditions

Researchers are in the process of teasing out what appears to be a complex relationship between misophonia and its “sibling” conditions: tinnitus and hyperacusis.6

Tinnitus, or chronic ringing in your ears, is becoming increasingly common in young people (where it was once considered primarily a condition in those 50 years or older). Among youth, those with tinnitus had significantly reduced tolerance for loud noise and tended to be more protective of their hearing.

Reduced sound level tolerance is a sign of damage to the auditory nerves because, when nerves used to process sound are damaged, it prompts brain cells to increase their sensitivity to noise, essentially making sounds seem louder than they are.7

Hyperacusis, meanwhile, is reduced tolerance to sound in which a person feels physical discomfort when exposed to some sounds. Research conducted by the  Jastreboffs suggests hyperacusis and tinnitus often co-exist. They noted, “Most frequently, significantly decreased sound tolerance results from a combination of hyperacusis and misophonia/phonophobia.”8

The causes of hyperacusis are unknown, but it could be due to functional changes within the central nervous system as well as increased anxiety or emotional response to sound.9 Hyperacusis has also been linked to exposure to certain sounds, head injury,stress and certain medications.10

Is There Help for Misophonia and Hyperacusis Sufferers?

Many misophonia patients try to live with their symptoms by lessening exposures to offensive noises. You can try wearing earplugs or headphones to tune out sounds, for instance. There are also hearing-aid-like devices that create a white-noise sound that may help reduce your reactions to sounds.

Psychological counseling and sound therapy are often recommended. The latter is often used for tinnitus (tinnitus retraining therapy) and may also work for other forms of decreased sound tolerance.

The idea behind sound therapy is to turn the offending sounds into neutral stimuli so they no longer provoke a negative response.11 In the case of hyperacusis, many of those affected live with the condition by wearing earplugs. This may actually backfire, however, by making your auditory system even more sensitive to noise, worsening hyperacusis.12

Some experts recommend a desensitization approach like tinnitus retraining therapy for hyperacusis. The therapy involves exposing you to a variety of sounds (in different frequencies, durations and volumes) so that ultimately your reaction to them lessens. According to the Jastreboffs, desensitization therapy alone will not relieve symptoms of misophonia.

For misophonia relief they recommend a different approach — “systematic exposure to sounds, associated with a pleasant situation, with gradually increasing sound levels.”13

If you struggle with misophonia, hyperacusis, or any sensitivity to sound, perhaps the greatest relief of all will come from knowing you’re not alone. There are many support groups available around the U.S., and if you can’t find one to attend in-person you can join in a discussion with other misophonia sufferers online.

[+] Sources and References

Apple seeks to improve hearing aid performance

Apple wants to make iPhone work better with hearing aids

BY

iPhones might eventually be able to detect the presence of a hearing aid.
iPhones might eventually be able to detect the presence of a hearing aid.
Photo: Soichi Yokoyama/Flickr CC
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple 52 patents, including a notable patent for a new hearing aid technology that would make the iPhone an even better device for the hearing impaired.

This new hearing aid technology described in the patent could be implemented in a portable audio device, like the iPhone, in order to detect if the user has a hearing aid and then automatically adjust the audio signal so you don’t have to fumble with those little hearing aid volume knobs yourself.

Here’s how the patented technology could work: Say you’re wearing a hearing aid and gets a call. Instead of adjusting the volume manually, the iPhone would use proximity and magnetic field sensors to detect when the device is moved toward a hearing aid, and then amp up the volume. Theoretically, it could work in reverse as well.

Also, among the big batch of patents first reported by Patently Apple, is the description of a ‘Diamond Cutting Tool for Cutting Smooth Reflective Surfaces’ that’s used to give the iPhone a smooth, shiny finish. Apple’s been bragging about its diamond-cut rounded edges since the debut of the iPhone 5.

There’s no guarantee that Apple will include the new hearing aid patent invented by Shaohai Chen and Ching-Yu Tam in the future, however the company has been a leader in regard to accessibility. It has won a Helen Keller Achievement Award for its Voice-Over feature to help those with vision impairments use an Apple device. More accessibility improvements are likely on the way in iOS 9 and the iPhone 6s. Hopefully the new hearing aid tech is one of them.

Apple patented hearing aid improvements

 

Apple’s plans to improve support for hearing impaired users was revealed in US Patent Filings.

By Neil Hughes – AppleInsider

The applications published  by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider are entitled, Social Network for Sharing a Hearing Aid Setting and Remotely Updating a Hearing Aid Profile. They both describe smart hearing aids that could wirelessly connect to devices to make life easier for users with hearing issues.

SOCIAL NETWORK FOR SHARING A HEARING AID SETTING

The applications come as Apple is set to offer built-in support for new “Made for iPhone” hearing aids later this year with the launch of iOS 6. The new hardware accessories will offer compatibility with Apple’s latest-generation model, the iPhone 4S.

But Apple’s newly published patent applications go much farther than just a certified iPhone accessory. Specifically, the social network patent describes a system through which users who rely on hearing aids could communicate with one another and share information in the interest of improving the overall quality of life of the members.

“With the advent of programmable hearing aids whose signal processing can be at least partially modified, what is desired is providing a hearing aid user the ability to modify the audio processing of the programmable hearing aid in the context for which the hearing aid will be used,” the filing reads.

Apple’s proposed networking system would rely on a user’s portable device, like an iPhone, that is connected to their wireless hearing aid. The iPhone would then communicate with other users and share settings so that they might obtain an ideal hearing aid configuration for their current location or activity.

Ideal hearing aid settings could also be stored and shared through other devices, like a computer or television set.

The second patent, related to remotely updating the settings on a hearing aid, describes how a system could save different configured profiles for specific circumstances. This would allow the user of a hearing aid “to modify the audio processing of the programmable hearing aid in real time in accordance with the context for which the hearing aid is or will be used.”

These stored, quickly selectable profiles could be shared between iPhones in Apple’s social networking concept, which could make life easier for users with hearing issues.

Both the social networking application and the concept for remotely updating a hearing aid profile were were first filed with the USPTO in January of 2011. Both proposed inventions are credited to Edwin W. Foo and Gregory F. Hughes.

Tinnitus Treatment Solutions

Tinnitus Treatments

Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, causes suffering for millions of patients. Many people are incorrectly told “nothing can be done”, and to “just learn to live with it.” At Tinnitus Treatment Solutions (TTS) we have deep experience in treating tinnitus patients and providing relief. Our tinnitus experts recognize that every patient is different, and your condition is unique. Therefore all tinnitus treatment solutions we offer are customizable to you – your hearing level, your tinnitus, your lifestyle and preferences. Our goal is to respect each patient’s individual needs and desires while managing his or her conditon effectively for the best outcome. 

About Tinnitus Treatments

There are several excellent treatment options, including tinnitus hearing aids with integrated sound therapy, and other sound therapy options including the SoundCure® Serenade®. These treatments are well established, clinically sound, safe and proven to be effective in most patients. TTS utilizes the HaRTTM (Habituation Retraining Therapy) program with proper tinnitus education and treatment guidance, proper use of sound therapy, and the care of an expert tinnitus audiologist focused on your treatment and working to bring you relief from tinnitus.

Get personal, customized treatment

• Discuss your lifestyle, hearing, tinnitus relief, comfort and budget needs

• Sound therapy is natural – no pills, surgery, or drugs

• Audiologists/tinnitus specialists on staff, ready to help you

• Services available nationwide

Common Tinnitus Treatment Questions We Address

If you are wondering “will this work for me?” We encourage you to have a brief phone discussion with one of our clincians. The emotional aspect of tinnitus – the stress, fear, frustration and anxiety that it can cause – are important areas to address. Often the best way to find a solution is to call for an evaluation and then try a treatment approach through a risk-free trial with the support of the tinnitus specialists/audiologist, who can guide you through the process. We provide all patient education and counseling – a highly important aspect of treatment. 

The Tinnitus Treatment Solutions 4-Step Process

What causes tinnitus?

Is there a cure for tinnitus?

What is the best tinnitus treatment?

Frequently, tinnitus is the result of noise exposure. There are many other potential causes, including head injury, ear wax, medications, and some diseases. Many people who are exposed to loud noise, especially over a prolonged period of time, experience tinnitus. Because there are so many different causes of tinnitus, it is best to get a proper diagnosis from a tinnitus care specialist.

No, but often it can be effectively managed. We favor a sound therapy approach with the goal of habituation. Through habituation, patients find relief from their tinnitus in that they don’ t notice their tinnitus at all for long periods of time, or if they do notice it they find it less loud or bothersome. 

For clincally suitable patients, we favor the HaRT Program with the integration of sound therapy – the use of outside sounds to interfere with tinnitus, and/or to enable relaxation in conjunction with appropriate counseling in the treatment of tinnitus. Sound therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective approaches to tinnitus management. Any sound tool should be used under the supervision of an audiologist who provides the necessary education and counseling to build the structured framework for a total approach to habituation. 

http://www.bayaudiology.co.nz/tinnitus#3

Reduce risk of age-related hearing loss,

Increased intakes of omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss, shows a new study.

High omega-3 intake was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) in people over the age of fifty.Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the U.S.  A rich source of Omega-3 fats is wild-caught Salmon and sardines.

“NutraIngredients “reports:

“Other micronutrients have been linked to reducing the risk of age-related hearing loss. In 2007 scientists from Wageningen University reported that folic acid supplements delayed age-related hearing loss in the low frequency region …

Another study … indicated a role for beta carotene and vitamins C and E, and the mineral magnesium in preventing prevent both temporary and permanent hearing loss in guinea pigs and mice.”