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What is that Sound!? Living with Misophonia

Have you ever heard a noise that you just can’t stand? Think about someone chewing with their mouth open, or someone sniffling with a cold. 

It’s really a disorder that you can’t accommodate. Despite every white noise or headphone, you have to work so much harder to get through the day. It’s been a really isolating disorder. There are certain family members that I’ve fallen out of touch with because of the trigger sounds. They think it’s me not liking them. - Kim, who called from Des Moines

Irritation is one thing, but in extreme cases for people living with hyperacusis or misophonia, these sorts of annoying sounds can trigger fear or even pain. Matthew Manz is one of those people; he carries earplugs and headphones with him everywhere.

“Now I’m married, and my wife Ann and I have four kids, and what I find is that sometimes my kids are triggers for me. Kids sniff. It’s a natural part of life, but when I hear them sniff, they know me well enough that I’m going to hand them a Kleenex,” he says. “There’s something about it. I feel something in the back of my neck. It’s almost like I can’t control my response. It’s like I literally want to climb the wall and escape the situation. It makes my insides kind of cringe and triggers this fight, flight or freeze response.”

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with two researchers at the University of Iowa about severe sensitivity to sound.

Richard Tyler, an audiologist and Director of the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Clinic at the University of Iowa; and Phillip Gander, an assistant research scientist in the department of neurosurgery at the University of Iowa, also join the conversation.

This post was originally published March 8, 2017

Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa