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Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud

Noise sensitivity can be a mental health trigger, but there are things you can do to lessen noise sensitivity (hyperacusis). Get tips here.
Noise sensitivity can be likened to nails on a blackboard. The constant buzz and whir of music, technology, the buzzing of Facebook notifications, ringing phones and loud conversations can be overwhelming. This sensitivity to noise is known as hyperacusis, a condition that arises from a problem in the way the brain processes noise.


When a sufferer comes to dread social settings due to the noise, it can become a mental health trigger. Sufferers may feel trapped with no escape, want some place quiet or feel disoriented, as though he or she can hear every noise or conversation in a room.  The effect is similar to being in an echo chamber.

Causes of Noise Sensitivity

Hearing loss does not necessarily reduce sensory overload.  The way in which the brain processes the sound does not mean that a person with hyperacusis, or sensitivity to sound in general, has better hearing. It’s just that he or she is more sensitive to certain sounds:  paper rustling, conversations, heating and air system sounds, etc.

Some causes of sensory overload include:

  • brain injury
  • airbag deployment
  • epilepsy
  • ear damage
  • TMJ
  • Neurological conditions such as migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder can also be associated with increased sensitivity to noise.

Tips to Reduce Noise Sensitivity

  • Incorporate some white noise into your surroundings  – run a fan, invest in a white noise machine, open a window or install a white noise app on your cell phone.
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds.
  • Try positioning yourself in another area of the room.
  • If you are wearing a hoodie, putting the hood up can lessen the stimulation.
  • Using a tactile tool, such as rubbing a smooth stone can provide enough of a distraction to facilitate calming (Using Objects to Reduce Anxiety).
  • Use post-it notes to cover sensors on auto-flushing toilets or automatic hand driers.
  • Visiting during non-peak times and seeking seating on the perimeter can help to reduce exposure to noise.

What do you do when the world becomes too loud?  We’d love to hear what has worked for you.

You can also connect with Paulissa Kipp on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and her website, Paulissakippisms.

181 thoughts on “Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud”

  1. I really hate the sound of rooster.. Since i was a child.. It’s just not hate the sound but its really annoyed me than other people. Some neighbors have roosters and annoyed me so much. Always, a year or more.. Now im at 26yo.. I always wear earbuds at home.. Except night.. And i also hate the sound of laugh tracks but now it getting worse, people laugh annoying me too.. Except they laugh with me. But it’s annoying.. I always hate the show that use laugh track and i avoid watching movie in crowded time ..

    1. They are actually two different things. Hyperacusis refers to a lower tolerance for sound (so reporting sounds as being “too loud” in the 70dcb area rather than the 95-100dcb area) while misophonia is an intense dislike for a specific sound, type of sound, or group of sounds.

  2. I’ve spent 27 years moving from place to place in search of a quiet place to live. I’m unable to find it. I’m extremely resentful. To the degree which I am having a hard time sleeping. Seeing everyone driving around so happy just enrages me, knowing that where I live used to be a beautiful, quiet coastal town. I just don’t know what to do. I can’t keep moving. I am now in my 60’s. I sometimes wear earplugs. But I didn’t move here not to hear the birds and wind. I hate cars and jets. I just wish they’d all drop dead.

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