Do Sounds Irritate You?

Watching one of my all-time favourite movies, Chicago the musical, I sing along to the Cell Block Tango. ‘He had it coming, he had it coming…’ and boy can I relate.  I am one of those overly sensory people. Little sounds, like the way you chew, the way you sniff, the way you click or tap your pen can literally push me over the edge.

To give you an example, I broke up with a guy at varsity because he put too much tomato sauce on his chip and dip, and proceeded to chew so loudly I thought I was going to clobber him.

At one stage I thought I was OCD, but after a bit of research, I found that there is, in fact, a name for this disorder that I have, it is called – misophonia. Finally, redemption for my irritation levels that seem to always be through the roof.

What is misophonia, I hear you ask? The medical explanation:

It is a hyper connectivity between the auditory system and the limbic system.

The layman explanation, reaction to sounds such as dripping water, chewing, snapping gum or repetitive noises, such as pencil tapping.

People with misophonia can become irritated, enraged or even panicked when they hear their trigger sounds. In my case, the trigger sounds are pen tapping, chewing, paper wrappers, the click click sound on a cellphone and sniffing. Sniffing makes me want to slam your head into the tissue box.

So how do you cope with this, other than wanting to slap the living daylights out of your colleague chewing his lunch so loudly that you feel like you are the slice of bread in his mouth?

Sarcasm and judgemental comments work, as do noise canceling earphones, and then there is always the option of finding another job.

However, I have found these little tips during my research, and I have found that distancing myself from the irritable noises definitely improves my irritation levels.

  • Try passing comments like “I never knew you chewed gum” add an extra amount of dripping sarcasm and judgment to the tone (and anyone who knows me, can hear me say this)
  • When someone is eating on the phone when I am speaking to them, cut them short by saying ‘shoot I have a call coming in’ or literally drop the call and blame Vodacom, it’s easy enough.

  • “No thanks, I hate gum” will hopefully stopping them from chewing as well.
  • ‘Here’s a tissue’ for the forever sniffer.

  • Or you can on occasion, resort to being rude and just say something like this:

Do you have a pet peeve?

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Adele Koolen
Adele Koolen

Health Editor

Adele Koolen studied BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy at Wits, practiced as a Physio for 15 years, and became one of the most sought-after Physios in the world sport arena. However, a hand injury in 2017 forced Adele to pursue alternative business ventures, resulting in her becoming a successful businesswoman and philanthropist. She is currently a Social Media Manager for a design company in Johannesburg, the founder of the #IAmEnoughZA campaign and the reigning Mrs SA Charity.

6 Comments
  1. My trigger is clipping sounds. Like the sound I hear when my husband is trying chew off his fingers by grooming is nails. Clip clip clip

  2. I have a bad case of misophonia all my life. Thanks for the advice on how to handle situations, I will definitely try it out… although I think the rude part will probably slip out! Haha!

  3. Oh how I relate! Chicago is my favorite movie and I get beside myself when someone chews like a horse next to me. I want to just escape! And the I try to focus on other sounds in the room.
    Thanks for sharing this Adele, now I know I’m not alone

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