Noise Intolerance 

Here's a great article I found, and I want to share it with you.  It's all about MS and noise intolerance, and how it affects this person's daily life..  Does noise intolerance affect you?  If it does, or if you just want to learn more about it, then this will be helpful to you  ...... here it is....


People must think that I hate music, movies, parties or basically anything that is fun. That is not the case at all. It is just that these things tend to be so LOUD.

My need for things to be just a little bit quieter is such a part of me that I completely forgot to think of it as another one of my "MS quirks." However, thinking about it, I know that this is part of MS - it is almost surely a part of cognitive dysfunction, as any noise really eats up every bit of capacity I have to think about anything else.

Turn up the volume even a little bit and it becomes almost painful, to the point that all I am thinking about is how to make it stop.

This has been a constant problem for me for many years. Some of the ways my noise intolerance manifests are:

  • I am unable to carry on a conversation at a party or at a dinner where there are other people talking, as I cannot maintain any sort of attention span for either what the other person is saying or how I can respond in a normal manner.
  • I become almost catatonic when the television or music is turned up past a certain volume, as I frantically search for a "Zen-like" quiet place in my head.
  • Certain types of sounds really disturb me. Cello music, for instance, feels like it is burrowing through my brain in an almost painful way.

There has been very little research done on this problem in people with MS. There has been some studies that have examined hearing loss in people with MS, but not noise sensitivity. One group described case studies of three people with MS who had pretty severe reactions to noise, including one person described acute shooting pain attacks in his right cheek when the telephone rang.

This type of noise sensitivity was called "hyperacusis." Interestingly, the researchers proposed using "hearing filters" or prescribing serotonin reuptake inhibitors (the class of antidepressants that includes Prozac and Paxil) to see if that can provide relief.

Bottom Line: I wish I didn't have this problem. I want to be more fun, instead of the person with the grimace so deep that my eyebrows almost touch while other people are enjoying raucous music or crowd noises. However, it is what it is, and I have learned how to deal with it - mainly by avoiding certain stores with loud music, certain people with loud voices and certain situations where people are cheering or booing at a television.

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH NOISE INTOLERANCE

Do a "Noise Inventory":

In other words, get rid of excess noise. While this sounds like common sense, there is more to getting rid of noise than turning down the television, since noise is everywhere ­ we have simply learned to ignore it. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t effect us on a subconscious level.

So, here is what to do: Go sit in each room of your house and just listen. Do you hear anything unnecessary? A ticking clock? A spinning hard drive? A bathroom fan that was left on? Turn each thing off and keep going until you hear… nothing. Do that (to the extent possible) in every room in your house.

Focus:

As much as we live in a multitasking world, it really doesn’t work out so well for those of us with MS. It is especially tragic when we try to do this with sounds ­ conversation + television=not enjoying or getting much out of either one, for instance. Therefore, create circumstances where you are receiving one type of auditory input at a time and see if that works out better.

Explain the Situation to Others:

Apparently, every time that I have tried to “fake it” with people, I look angry.  I now just say to people, “I have a hard time trying to process lots of different noise at the same time, can we turn the music off/way down for awhile?” So far, I have only gotten good responses ­ probably because I take the blame on myself, rather than telling them to “Turn the damn music down already!” which I think they fear is coming, based on my “angry” face.

Know your “Triggers”:

I am pretty sure that for all of us, some noises are much more grating and distracting than others. For me, cello music makes me want to scream in agony, as does background noise of football games on the television.  If you know the top couple of things that are unbearable, it usually isn’t hard to eliminate them and deal with some of the lesser evils of the world of noise.

Bottom Line:

Yes, it is annoying to be sensitive to many of the noises that don’t seem to bother others. However, it is what it is. I don’t think you can simply learn to ignore these things without causing a great deal of subconscious stress. Put a little effort into making your world a little quieter and you will probably find that your brain works better and that you are a happier person.

Sources:

Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D, Weber H, Pfadenhauer K, Stöhr M, Rösler A. Central hyperacusis with phonophobia in multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler. 2002 Dec;8(6): 505-9.


If you have experienced Noise Intolerance, let me know......I'd love to read your story and find out how this is affecting you.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Sue Ellen

http://www.nomorems.com

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