Understanding the Fear of Loud Noises (Phonophobia)

Phonophobia is a phobia which means it’s a strong negative emotional reaction to sounds or other stimuli. People with phonophobia may experience panic attacks, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating and sleep disturbances if exposed to certain types of noise. There are many theories as to what causes this type of fear but one theory suggests that our brains have evolved over millions of years to avoid potentially harmful sounds such as those made by animals or insects. Another theory says that there is a genetic component to how our nervous system reacts to sound. A third theory suggests that there are environmental factors such as exposure to loud music at an early age or even the number of people around us who make noise. The symptoms of phonophobia vary from person to person depending on their level of sensitivity and the frequency and intensity of sounds they’re afraid of. Some people feel no discomfort at all while others experience severe physical reactions such as nausea, sweating, trembling and even vomiting. Other symptoms include headaches, dizziness, irritability and inability to concentrate. The most common symptom is hearing a constant ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. These sounds can range from very quiet to extremely loud and some people might not even notice them. They could be so far away that they’re out of sight or they could be right next to you! For many people these sounds aren’t easy to ignore and can cause severe distress if not addressed properly. Even some animals such as dogs can suffer from noise phobias.

You can find more about noise phobias here: Noise phobias

There are many cures for noise phobias but only the most common ones are listed below:

The best way to cure any fear is to face it! This is often easier said than done but if you’re absolutely dreading a certain sound it will be necessary to face it at some point in time.

This can be as simple as listening to a certain song or album you don’t like or even watching a scary movie. In order to make this work, you need to get used to the noise at a low volume first and then gradually working your way up to louder examples. It may take weeks or months but in most cases this process works.

Does listening to certain types of music help you relax?

If yes then this could be a good way of curing your fear. If you’re afraid of loud noises then listen to soft lullabies or even classical pieces performed on a piano.

If you dislike any noises then wearing noise cancelling headphones can help block them from your ears which in turn should make them less frightening. This won’t work for all cases but in some it can make a world of difference.

This may not directly cure the fear but if you find certain noises distracting then putting in earplugs or headphones can make the world a quieter place than it actually is and thus make you feel less anxious.

Do you live near an airport or a city?

The constant loud noise of planes and cars could be what’s making your fear so intense. Move to the country, at least for a month, and see if your fear subsides.

Do you have any pets?

Try petting or playing with them or even taking them for a walk. Although this isn’t a cure on its own it can help you build a resistance towards loud noises.

How about an easy cure?

Try finding a medication that can help alleviate your fear. There are many types of anti-anxiety pills that can make any noise seem less troublesome.

Surgery is the most radical way of curing a noise phobia. This involves the implanting of permanent earplugs which can make even the loudest sounds seem quiet.

Some of these cures may seem a bit extreme to you and that’s perfectly fine as there are many other ways of dealing with your anxiety. These are simply suggestions that have worked for many people in the past.

As with any fear, don’t expect a quick fix as it may take a few weeks, months or even years to fully get over the problem.

Never give up and you can achieve anything.

You’ve faced your fear and overcome it! Pat yourself on the back for dealing with such a difficult issue.Congratulations my friend, you’re officially a Man With A Plan.


Sources & references used in this article:

Understanding sound sensitivity in individuals with autism spectrum disorders by LN Stiegler, R Davis – Focus on Autism and Other …, 2010 – journals.sagepub.com

Phonophobia in migraine by JV Vingen, JA Pareja, O Støren, LR White… – …, 1998 – journals.sagepub.com

Psychological Sensitivity to Sounds in Misophony and Phonophobia by M Kokowska – Open Journal for Psychological Research, 2018 – centerprode.com

Tinnitus: presence and future by AR Møller – Progress in brain research, 2007 – Elsevier

Hyperacusis by DM Baguley – Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 2003 – journals.sagepub.com

Two novel genomic regions associated with fearfulness in dogs overlap human neuropsychiatric loci by R Sarviaho, O Hakosalo, K Tiira, S Sulkama… – Translational …, 2019 – nature.com

Is central hyperacusis a symptom of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) dysfunction? by J Marriage, NM Barnes – Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 1995 – cambridge.org