Chances are, you have at one point in your life sat next to a person loudly chomping on potato chips; crunching a carrot; or chewing aggressively through a thick cut of steak. Some, of course, get upset about this because they can’t understand why people eat so rudely. For others, however, they may react in an even harsher manner due to a medical condition: misophonia.
“The literal definition of misophonia is hatred of sound, but a person with misophonia does not simply hate all sound. People with misophonia have specific symptoms and triggers and are sensitive to only certain sounds (and occasionally to visual triggers),” reads a descriptor on Misophonia.com. “Exposure to a trigger sound elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities. The response can range from moderate discomfort to acute annoyance or go all the way up to full-fledged rage and panic.”
As it relates to eating and drinking, misophonia can be triggered by anything from the ‘ahhs’ after someone sips a beverage, to burping, crunching, chewing, silverware scraping teeth, wet mouth sounds, flossing, lip smacking, jaw clicking, throat clearing and much more.
In terms of non-food related noises, cars, animal sounds, smartphone noises, overused words and even breathing can also negatively impact those afflicted by misophonia.
“There are no single specific behavioral or device-based treatments that have been rigorously tested scientifically and shown to efficaciously treat misophonia,” reads a statement issued by Duke University. “At this point, there only are early small scale uncontrolled and pilot studies that have not yielded definitive results. Accordingly, as consumers of treatment services, patients seeking services for misophonia are encouraged to ask treatment providers to disclose (a) which interventions will be used to help treat misophonia, (b) the rationale for such approaches in light of available scientific evidence, and (c) any potential risks a particular treatment may pose.”
While there currently isn’t a cure-all for sufferers of misophonia, it is recommended that those experiencing symptoms reach out to an audiologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist or occupational therapist.