Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud

December 27, 2013 Paulissa Kipp

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.

APA Reference
Kipp, P. (2013, December 27). Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Paulissa Kipp

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Julie Ann Brady
January, 12 2018 at 4:43 am

Shar, oh my goodness, but you could be me!! I too am finding that I cannot sleep many nights because of a neighbor. From Nov 28-Dec 28, 2017, I lived in a senior apt and had to leave and return to my mobile home in a senior park here in Leesburg, FL. At that senior apt, the mgmt allowed the old couple to play their TV with surround sound nearly 24/7 -- I was told they had 7 speakers w/subwoofer. I found after less than one week, I was not sleeping and reported sleep-deprivation to the mgmt. They told me I must be overly-sensitive to sounds, that no one had complained previously. I told them I could explain no one else complaining although there was that night at 11pm when I stepped into the hallway to ascertain the sound and heard a woman yell from down that hall, "turn that thing off already." And, the day I was packing my car, a male resident from the 1st floor stopped me to ask why I was moving ... come to find out that he too, from 3 floors down, had been hearing that TV + surround sound more loudly from 2am-5am!! Well, I am back in the senior park and seem to have become a bit more sensitive to low frequency sounds at night. I have been experiencing such a noise in the am hours, 1am-7am, and had to go outside several times this past week to nail down the origination. Come to find out, I was aware of this sound during the past 2+ years I've lived here. I suspected where it might be originating ... but didn't come outside to find the source. 2 doors down from me, an older woman says her TV in the back bedroom is her pacifier and runs it throughout the sleeping hours and then cranks up the volume on the TV in the living room. I am hearing it now!

Rena Ramos
December, 15 2017 at 6:20 pm

Why the loud noise from tv annoys me and drive me crazy. The same when people around me talking all at the same time. I can't stand it. Its getting into my nerves. Eversince when I was a kid when I watched tv its in the lowest volume like about 3-6. And the other members of the family 1-100 volume its on 60+ and I swear it drives me nuts. Oh I almost forgot. I also hate the sound of running water from the faucet.

November, 21 2017 at 7:52 pm

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 ..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 25 2019 at 9:49 pm

Yes, laugh tracks! I know exactly what you're talking about. Also the sounds of a busy cafeteria, etc. The various voices and frequencies. This might sound crazy, but sometimes if I'm getting really sick (flu, etc) I hear voices like im at a busy place. It's creepy, and makes me feel delirious.

Dan Bolivar
November, 5 2017 at 10:55 am

Sorry but it isn't called "hyperacusis" it's actually called "Misophonia"

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

November, 8 2017 at 10:17 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jess T
November, 8 2017 at 12:48 pm

Misophonia is something else. This is about hyperacusis, which is different than misophonia.

Gregg A Kuljian
September, 30 2017 at 4:46 am

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Angie Dibble
April, 22 2018 at 3:07 pm

I,m in the same situation, I miss the bird song having to wear ear plugs all of the time. I've had to move so many times. I had to leave the property where I was, but had the chance to move across the road, but here I have constant train track noise, it's killing me. I can't wait to get out.

September, 17 2017 at 9:46 am

I'm so glad I'm not crazy. I have always been sensitive to noise and lights! Especially at night or when everything is quiet. I do not know why but I deal with this at least once or twice a week. It's been happening since i was a child. I hate it and people look at me crazy when i try to explain it to them.

August, 31 2017 at 2:40 am

I thought I was just easily irritated, so I am glad to read this and see that others feel the same. Like others, loud screams and squeals from children set me on edge. It's like I can feel it moving down my spine. And I love kids and all, but I can do without that. Even my coworkers background chatter drives me nuts. I am sitting at my desk, wearing ear plugs, as I type this.
I do have epilepsy, although well-controlled with medication. I am curious to know if the above reference are the noises that TRIGGER a seizure or if it is just a generally high sensitivity level for those with epilepsy.

Lauretta Bradberry
August, 30 2017 at 11:42 am

I am hearing EVERYTHING right now. I was fine a few minutes ago and some noise somewhere triggered by headache and inside raging emotion. I just want to go find someplace quiet until the 'rage' goes away. People just look at me if I tell them I have this noise problem. Thanks for this blog.

August, 23 2017 at 5:53 am

Glad to hear others experience the same problem. Our local major airport has changed its flight path and unfortunately our house is under the new flight path. The loud plane noise will start at 6 am and wakes us up. Then it's hard to go back to sleep again. This makes us depressed sometimes. We lived at this house for 19 years before FAA changed flight path. Didn't know they can do that without consulting local community.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 28 2017 at 6:09 pm

Same has just happened to us too. Feeling very depressed & no one wants to help. Noise complaints don't actually have a regulation for noise levels near a residency & aviation only deal with safety but say flying safe. My life is miserable.

August, 19 2017 at 7:18 am

I have problems with hearing traffic noise, especially at my house. When I am in my backyard, the sound of the road about 0.4 miles away makes me very irritated and short. Strangely, if the noise is on my street from neighbor, I don't mind at all. It's the idea that my peace is interrupted by a bunch of strangers cars that makes me angry. Does anyone else have a similar problem? Oh, and don't get me started on motorcycles!

Raquel Coleman
August, 18 2017 at 4:56 am

For me it's comes and goes. Which sounds like maybe it's not the same. It's like all of the sudden the radio is blaring an i can hear everyone else's conversation except the person talking to me. My chest gets tight and I have to leave the area. Is this same for anyone els?

August, 16 2017 at 11:58 pm

Wow this makes me feel a tiny bit better knowing I am not just being over dramatic and it does actually have a name! I also can NOT stand the screaming children in the shopping malls/supermarkets anywhere and everywhere. It make my heart instantly race and my anger levels go from 0 to 100 as soon as I hear it. I also share an office with 3 others and trying to get work done when you are extremely busy is near impossible. I am just so happy I am not the only one out there lol

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 20 2017 at 11:57 pm

I thought I was the only person with this.Family gathering I would set with with u family on holidays after a few mins it was like I was stick hearing five conversation and not keeping up with one I finally would have to go out side and smoke to get away from it
I also have to wear cotton in my ears to drown out the noise and also the nonstop ear pain
I've got now where I only want to be in my own little bubby and that made working impose
I even had a boss company non stop to the other works because u voice would carry and I talked to loud to block out to the noise

Carol Robertson
July, 4 2017 at 8:39 pm

Loud noises have always bothered me; however, now that I am a senior citizen, I have
Loud noises have always bothered me; however, now that I am a senior citizen, I absolutely cannot tolerate noise. So, I avoid large stores, especially since most modern parents make no effort to control their children. Whenever I walk into a store or restaurant and hear a child/children crying/screaming, I turn around and walk out. I absolutely cannot stand it. It hurts my ears and makes me seek a quiet area. Why can people not realize that no one wants to hear their screaming child? And that it actually makes some people sick!!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 10 2017 at 8:34 pm

Couldn't agree more. I hate screaming high pitch kids, loud noise bang etc. it's really irritates me & click my brain to get crazy. Have a new neighbor and they are always in the backyard playing kid pool & scremaig squealing, the worst part is the parents re doing the same. And I can't complaint about the disturbing the peace because it's a daytime.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2017 at 11:05 pm

I have children and I can't tolerate the noise they make - unlike you I can't walk away .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 18 2017 at 5:02 am

Me too my kids drive me crazy I HATE noise I'm getting worse as I'm getting older too

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 30 2017 at 6:23 am

I too can't take the noise of my own screaming children, I am going crazy. I end up screaming too and I can't even take the sound of myself screaming.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Anna Weber
August, 22 2017 at 1:16 pm

I have difficulty with family gatherings. My great grandma daughter is 3 and I have been close to her since birth. Now that she has siblings it's even more of a problem with all the high pitched noise and chaos. I feel like a hermit some days

Linette Nixon
July, 2 2017 at 1:59 pm

I cannot believe there is a name for this! I have found silicone/wax earplugs and noise cancelling headphones work WONDERS. My stress level/anxiety IMMEDIATELY subsides when I use these. I cannot believe that I have come across this blog! Lol. I am so excited. So much so that I just jumped up and ran to tell my husband. :-) So nice to know that I am not alone! Actually, the ABSOLUTE BEST GIFT I HAVE EVER RECEIVED was from my husband and it was the noise cancelling headphones!! Since then, however, I have found the silicone ear plugs (the mold to your ear and create a seal OR you can just lightly put them in your ear and it muffles the loud sounds but still allows you to hear what others are saying.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lin Melton
August, 22 2017 at 9:13 pm

It's so great to read others suffer like me to overloud noise... I went to a funeral today and when all family and friends gathered outside to chat after 15 minutes I wanted to run away... All I could hear was a heavy sound of like thousands of bees droning. I just wanted to run away..!! After 3/4 of an hour I had to excuse myself and left.. My head was pounding.. So thanks Linette as in large noise areas I shall use those silicone ear plugs of which I have used... Thanks again for the tip. :o)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Brenda Franco
February, 4 2022 at 1:39 pm

I'm always on edge from pretty much all noises. The repeating ones are the worst to me. Even when I wear earplugs, I can sometimes hear my own heartbeat and it makes me crazy. I just read something about Magnesium deficiency being a possible cause of my sound caused anxiety and anger. I'm going to try a supplement and also check with my doctor about some blood work. I can't go on like this for certain.

Nannette Landry
June, 25 2017 at 1:24 pm

I work in a hospital . You would think hospitals were quiet so the sick could rest... Well not at all! Between constant bells and now the new "safety alert" that goes off on my phone constantly. There is no way to get away from the noise as these bells and alerts are piped into the medication, nutrition and supply rooms. Not to mention they are loud as well. Of course there are people talking over one another because it's so loud! Then there is the "global talkers" who want everyone to hear what they are saying. I'm an RN and everyday I go to work with the optimism that I will give great care and it will be a great day. The noise takes away all that including my last nerve! I feel irritated by everything and wonder why can't someone please instill some rules about being quiet! These would be mine iif I were in charge. Don't speak to anyone unless your less than 3 feet away. Turn down all bells and ringers and be considerate. If I say anything people just don't get it, so I keep quiet but am exploding inside. It is getting to the point that I may have to leave nursing altogether. Sad.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sue Galvin
July, 25 2017 at 3:27 am

Oh my how awful. My problem is with social settings and I feel that I'm going to finish up with no social life. Once a noise affects me I go straight to an overbearing headache and I can't think of anything else. It makes me bad tempered and hostile. I find it hard to believe that other people aren't hearing the way I do. I have tried to use my breathing to stop myself over reacting but all I want to do is leave. I no longer look forward to get togethers. My husband is deaf and needs the television on load which means I'm in a bad place when I'm at home aswell. I will try rubbing a smooth stone. A big problem aswell is that I don't like the feeling of anything in my ears either. I used to be fine so I think it has something to do with getting older but it's no joke!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 15 2017 at 11:11 pm

Agree 100%. I thought i was the only 1!

June, 13 2017 at 5:12 am

I find the banging of plates or pots in the kitchen very painful. Someone talking loud is also a problem.

June, 10 2017 at 11:05 pm

Noise has always angered me but more so recently. I am turning 44 years old. I am a female and work in a prison. It is extremely loud there, with fans, loud carts moving, guys talking and arguing. When I come home, the noise doesn't stop. It seems the dogs are barking, my daughter talks extremely loud, her and my husband seem to be arguing all the time. We live next to a main road. Loud trucks, cars with loud mufflers, loud motorcycles are constantly going up the road. Hearing my husband chew drives me crazy. He was just eating an apple and I just wanted to freak out on him. I'm unsure of how to get a hold of this and be happy. I find myself staying away from friends and family because they drive me crazy. I hate going to places that play music. I just want to pack up and move to a lake where there's no one around. But that's not an option. I need some help on how to deal with this.

manjeet kauf
June, 10 2017 at 7:38 pm

so i am among friends. i had a head injury from a motorcycle accident and was diagnosed with a type of epilepsy (language sensitivity--both speech and hearing) nothing else. later a concussion resulted in noise sensitivity. the first that "annoyed" me was the sound of women's heels. (fortunately, where i live few women--or men--wear heels, but that made me more sensitivity to sound in general. a musician (and performer), i'm fine when, as a group, we lead the national anthem at a baseball game, but i never attend games in a stadium (because of all the noise). a joke i made out of this is "i'm sensitive to noise unless i'm making it." over the years i seek restaurants that are quiet and sit in a corner or near a wall. my favorite residence was a condominium next to a canyon. the noisiest thing was coyotes (at night). i used ear plugs where i live
now because other tenants come and go early in the morning and late at night. now i use a fan all night instead. actually, being a performer is fine because i'm the one making the noise. my close friends and family know my sensitivity and won't invite me to a noisy place to celebrate birthdays, etc. i guess i don't go to the beach for the same reason. so i guess living with myself is the way to go. so don't feel deprived not doing a few things where there's too much noise for me. i hope you all do the same. whenever possible, choose where you spend your time so you can be at ease--and that includes profession, too.

June, 9 2017 at 7:07 pm

The worst place for me is the Cinemas. Yes, I'm okay with the sounds of the movie but the people inside always annoys me. I can always hear their conversation even when they are whispering. Also when my family or my sister's friends come to the house and I'm about to go to sleep or suddenly waking up in the middle of my sleep because of them talking. I'm a light sleeper so when there's a noise in split second, I wake up easily and will be having a hard time sleeping again. I always play some rain sounds with thunder or waves so that I can sleep easily. But I play loud music like Nightcore but it's the type of noise that I chose to hear.

May, 30 2017 at 8:20 pm

Well, I thought I was premenopausal or my kids were just too loud but it is not normal and glad to hear I am not the only one. Their voices drive me nuts , as well as the TV. When I set it to my desired level, nobody can hear it. I guss I will start using earplugs. I used them years ago when I wprked in a very loud bar and it was great because I could still hear what people said but without all the extra noise.

May, 19 2017 at 10:03 pm

It is probably an inbalance in the vestibular area of the ear. Look at exercises found in Minds in Motion to help with this. My grandson suffers this.

May, 17 2017 at 5:34 pm

I have TMJ and have inner ear problems, cannot stand loud noises, makes me very nervous asked about it many times from my doctor just got no real amswer.

May, 12 2017 at 9:22 am

I suffer every day of my life. It started when I was 14, and everything started hurting my ears, from pencil/pen tapping to drums. I was tested by an ENT Specialist, and they said my ears were "perfectly fine". I continued suffering my life to this day where I am now 17, and every day noises are still torturing me. Even while wearing earplugs, the noises still torture me. It's like I can hear everything through them. I actually wish I can just go deaf. Deaf people are so lucky they're not suffering every day like me. I'm planning on going back to the ENT sooner or later. If they keep saying that nothing's wrong, then they either aren't specialist or I'm just cursed to suffer like this. The torture devices include: Metal chairs (like at school), drums, high-pitch noises (i.e. screaming, bus brakes, whistles, etc.), big mouths (yelling, laughing loud), clapping, slamming notebooks/textbooks, stomping, talking loud, just everything is torture. I wish I can just go completely deaf!

September, 25 2016 at 3:56 am

I have always been bothered by loud sounds, but it has been getting worse. The other day
I was helping hold a package together, so it could be taped with a large tape dispenser. The sound of the tape being pulled and cut just about burst my eardrums! I hate the sound of large trucks or loud mufflers or motorcycles. I sleep with a fan AND earplugs. I'm sorry for all of you that have this terrible issue. I am a musician, so sound is super important to me. I will continue to research this and I am very glad I found this website. Good luck to all of you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ken Stead
April, 29 2017 at 6:56 pm

I am also a musician and struggle with this. Music seems to be OK for me but lots of kids talking, yelling, too much of anything bothers me. Have you found anything that helps?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 4 2017 at 2:28 pm

Try listening to rain or ocean sounds, etc. through headphones on a device such as a smart phone or iPod. Or just music that you like. I'm a musician too-drummer.

September, 24 2016 at 12:20 pm

I'm not the only one. For me the worst is the bass or subwuffers for music or tv. One of those makes me so angry and anxious. People talking loud is also bothersome for me. Car music makes me crazy too. I hope this is a passing fad.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 15 2017 at 11:29 pm

PEOPLE talking out loud behind me at a concert/ cinema drive me nuts! Plastic bottles being squashed, children screaming, loud motorbikes, small dogs barking, people who themselves wear ear plugs to mow the lawn with shitty, loud machines and strimmer, chewing, bus brakes screeching.....only recently discovered I have TMJ. I dont like ear plugs because for some reason i can then hear my heart beat.....its very hard to live with??

jac podevin
September, 19 2016 at 10:56 pm

I am sensitive to noise and go to the same cafe each morning i find it hell when people come in who are loud; I use headphones or an i-pod and often find that to cancel out their noise I would be in the highest danger red zone. I also see that when two or three people are in there not making any noise a couple can come in who are really loud and dont even recognise the silence of those already there as if noise were -'the better option'. When some people start talking loudly others up their game and for me it becomes intolerable. I dont know that there is anything that totally blocks out sounds without having some negative effect on my own hearing - I am happy to ignore everyone as I only go in by myself but they are not ignorable.

September, 18 2016 at 5:08 am

I thought i was just suffering from some form of irrationality, simple things that people are doing are really upsetting me and i dont feel comfortable standing up for myself. I feel trapped in a corner, im beginning to have suicidal thoughts because the idea of nothingness is seeming more heavenly every day. I feel like crap all the time, i get little sleep and with my financial situation i cannot live alone. We have noisy doors and the roommate is showing the early signs of emphysema, i dont know how much more of this i can take, it started january this year and i just cant take it anymore.

September, 13 2016 at 11:18 am

Sure glad I am not alone in this matter. This has just been really happening in the last 3 or 4 months. Seems like when I am around several people, the noise level is up and I have to cover my ears. A coworker asked me what was wrong. I told her I do not know but my nerves cannot take the noise anymore. She said that just started not too long ago. I can be in my office and the noise be in a totally different room, but it sends my nerves on edge. I just want to scream. I can't though. Gonna try the stone and the white noise ap. Hope they help. Wish folks would be considerate of others when they are inside a building (but nowadays, I think that is too much to ask).

September, 11 2016 at 10:45 am

Im glad I'm not the only one with loud noises anxiety.
Im from Philippines and this anxiety started when i was 20. And now i'm 25. You see in this neighborhood where i lived, houses are very close to each other. And when i hear repetitive loud banging/hammering on the wall it just makes me irritated and anxious,angry and depressed. Please tell me I'm not the only one in this situation.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 8 2017 at 11:33 pm

I am Filipina living in Hawaii. It is the same here, the houses are soo close to each other and the walls are thin! I want to move to the mainland where houses have double wall structures.

September, 9 2016 at 3:45 pm

So glad that I found this website. I thought there must be something wrong with me. People that I work with play music loud and it really bothers me. I made the mistake of letting it be known and now, they will actually turn it up when I am around. I try not to show any discomfort and just press on through but I find it difficult to stay on task when the music is so loud. I would tell the manager but I am afraid it would only make things worse since I am the only one that is seems to bother and the manager never seems to be bothered by it. I wear ear plugs but I cannot wear them all the time due to the nature of my work. It is not just that the music is loud, they also talk over the music so it gets pretty loud. It is unbearable at times. I have been diagnosed with TMJ and migraines. I had no idea that the two could be related to noise sensitivity.

September, 5 2016 at 12:25 pm

Ok this is what I have been dealing with for about 6 months probably longer but I will come home no one will be there and I will go and turn off any fan that is going and then go in my room and after a minute I can here something other than quiet so I go out to see what it is it is the whole house ventilation you can't turn off grrrrrrrrrr so I go back to my room get on my computer and kids come home we say hi how was your day and all that then I can here loud thumping on the floor and thuds of the doors slamming and I instantly can feel my whole body tense up and everything now sounds like a gymnasium full of gymnast doing a floor routine in my house then I will say what the hell is going on out there and it is usually my granddaughter running through the kitchen to the back door or my daughter doing a handstand but it stresses me out bad then I will feel like every one is talking at once and it is just like a big ball of words bouncing back and forth I can't concentrate on anything anyone is saying and I end up yelling just shut up and away I go back to my room I hate this so bad I feel stressed out so bad I find myself clenching the side of my seat in the car so hard but I don't even realize I'm doing it at first it's just so bad that now I don't even want to here anything I will go outside and start skimming pine needles out of my pond and if someone comes outside to see what I am doing I will ask them to leave me alone I am out here for the peacefulness my shoulders and neck are like rocks and I feel like crap cause I yell at my family some times for just saying mom to many times and this morning I couldn't even have sex with my husband without plugging my ears so I couldn't here any of the noises from in the rest of the house sorry if this is tmi I just want to know if someone else is feeling this strongly or is there more to my problem?

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