Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud
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
- ear damage
- 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.
Kipp, P. (2013, December 27). Noise Sensitivity: When The World Is Too Loud, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2013/12/when-the-world-is-too-loud-noise-sensitivity
Author: Paulissa Kipp
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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
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
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!!
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.
I have children and I can't tolerate the noise they make - unlike you I can't walk away .
Me too my kids drive me crazy I HATE noise I'm getting worse as I'm getting older too
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
Agree 100%. I thought i was the only 1!
I find the banging of plates or pots in the kitchen very painful. Someone talking loud is also a problem.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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??
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
I am one of the extremely unlucky fellas when it comes to noise pollution by location. Guess where I live.......Nigeria!
This is one of the noisiest countries in the world. My city of residence is characterised by church and mosque buildings firmly stuck in between residential areas. They have external speakers mounted. Churches, (the one I attend inclusive) are the greatest noise pollutants. I can no longer attend. They scream loud Hallelujahs, dance to rock-like Jesus music, pray by shouting demons down, and usually look tired and worn out sweaty like they got hit by an elephant after every church service. They believe you have a spiritual problem if you're not making a joyful noise.Then they are ranting about the next church high.In a bid to escape the havoc of noise, I found me a quiet office space 20 minutes drive from home.( Home is surrounded by churches too)
Quiet....is the foundation and motivator of creativity. All em noisy guys never invented nothing. How do you hear a God that is hidden, Quiet and incomprehensible by screaming and shouting???
I am amazed that I am not alone in this awful issue. Yesterday was ruined because of my intolerance to noise on the beach, we went for a BBQ and typically a group of noisy youths parked behind us and sure enough on went their thumping music ruining everything. My partner and I had an enormous argument about it and we still aren't speaking as he put lots of effort into getting everything organised for the bbq and I spoiled it because of my intolerance. I am jealous of people who can blot out these wildly irritating individuals who think it is okay to ruin everyone else's peace but then I suppose they have every right to be there just as I have. My problem grew after living next door to a DJ and his insane mother who had all night parties, these could spring up at any time and my nerves became more and more shattered. It got worse and worse an only stopped after 8 long years when he moved out. No amount of letters, interventions etc. would stop their parties and they went on most times until the early hours when they would eventually become tired and sleep and then they would wake up and start again as neither of them had a meaningful job. One particularly awful night the same CD was played over and over again as they had all fallen asleep. I nearly went mad! This has contributed to my hatred of loud music. My partner just thinks I am a grumpy moo. I can deal with most other noises but the panic that ensues when groups of youths get together and the inevitable racket begings is crippling, this has now grown to a total intolerance to having the radio on in the car and people listening to music on their headphones on trains (I travel a lot) and people having loud conversations - to the extent where I have to move to a different seat all the time to find the optimum peace. I wish there was something I could do to deal with this as it is becoming worse.
So. I am not alone ... btw loud noises makes me angry and it takes me 5-10 mins to become back to the normal and during that duration I become mad but still I can't show my anger to my parents so I have to keep quite after telling them to lower the volume again and again and I think that's the reason I'm becoming short tempered...
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Oh I am so glad I found this! I struggle with daily noises and especially at night if I hear a noise (child get up to you the bathroom...) I am awake for hours afterwards. My youngest child and husband are extremely loud by nature and I sometimes feel like I don't know what to do. I wear ear defenders (industrial ones) which hurt the area around my ears and jaw, I wear silicone earphones but they hurt inside my ears after wearing them too much. I am light sensitive and movement sensitive also so I'm pretty sure there is something going on with me...I feel like I can't stay in my situation and I can't go as I love my family! What a pickle! Anyone else have a household of overwhelming husband/child? If so, coping strategies? I am trying everything known to man haha
I thought I was losing my mind....I really thought I was crazy. I have six children, so as you can imagine my home is very loud and very, very busy. It's not just the noise that makes me freak out, but it can also be too much movement. This didn't use to bother me that much, but recently it has become all I can do to not totally lose my mind. I literally feel trapped and want to run away....like I just need some peace.....It didn't make much sense to me until I read some of the causes. I have had a lot of problems with my ears growing up, and am majority deaf in my right ear, so obviously that's the likely cause of these episodes. I don't think white noise will fix my situation though. Is there any other way to stop the anxiety associated with this?
Mine started after getting out of an abusive marriage. I was thrown against a wall four times and the very last time I felt like my heart stopped for a second and my whole head was ringing. I was so terrified I fell down and felt like throwing up. I couldn't talk, couldn't cry, couldn't hear until a good hour later. Felt like my soul was ripped out. I am still having problems hearing, my neck cracks loudly, I can't STAND loud tv or noises but tolerate it with other people around. I can't get out of the house due to extreme fear, can't sleep during certain hours of the night, can't stand movies or books that have any sort of violence. I get dizzy a lot and am very depressed most of the time. I have "smiling depression". I have unexplained aches and pains as well.
My boyfriend has a had his left ear damaged and it is extremely sensitive. Unfortunately, we live on a loud corner and have a jack Russell terrier mix. This means there is always noise and the dog barks. His first reaction is to yell and scream which drives me crazy and does not solve the problems long term. He thinks I should justify his yelling at the dog. I understand he is in pain but when I remind him of his promise to wear an earplug in his bad ear he complains about having to wear one while he is at home watching t.v. Seriously we have two cats and a dog because he fell in love with them and wanted them. He will have moments when he understands his response makes it worse and does better for a little while. But then out of nowhere he will lose it when the dog barks. Apparently my own anger or frustration with his response only makes it worse.
I'm not sure if I am hypersensitive, but I can longer workout with earbuds playing my favorite tunes. I won't sleep if I do, not one wink! I am very sensitive to noises at night. If I am having trouble sleeping, each little house creak, dog barking and opening doors will send a firing jolt down my neck and down my spine. I just recently ( three days ago) tried working out in the theater room of my gym, and I thought It was great, but I did not sleep a wink that night. I take ambien and olanzapine to help me sleep, but not even that will work when I am exposed to loud sounds. Our issues are not quite understood by everyone, so getting to hear some of these stories is very comforting. I wish all of you some peace and compassion. May people someday become more sympathetic to our cause..