What is Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises?

Phonophobia is the name for fear of loud noises. There are several other terms used for it including sonophobia, Ligyrophobia and acousticophobia. All these terms are related to terms "loud noise, sound or alarm". It can affect people from all age groups from children to adults.

Alarms are used widely in security systems to notify about any unauthorized access or intruders. They are part of our routine as we set up alarms in watches and mobiles to wake up early. For normal people, an alarm causes a temporary panic which does not last more than a few seconds. In case of people suffering from phonophobia or fear of loud noises, the sound can drive them crazy and they are unable to react properly to the situation.

What is Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises?

Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises and Hyperacusis

Phonophobia or fear of loud noises refers to a condition where a person shows a persistent and unwarranted fear of sounds. Sounds are normal in our routine as we hear them everywhere including kitchen, seminars, sound of banging doors etc... and none of them are threatening. However, people with phonophobia or fear of loud noises cannot stand these loud sounds. Some experts also believe that this situation may also be confused with or even related to hyperacusis, which refers to an extreme abnormal reaction to sound.

Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises and Other Disorders

A person reacting abnormally to sound may also be an indication of some other disorders like misophonia and hyperacusis , that are caused due to increased sensitivity to noise. These conditions can arise without any explainable cause or may happen due to Asperger's Syndrome or Meniere's disease. Thus, it is strongly recommended to see you doctor and get your conditioned diagnosed. Usual case of phonophobia or fear of loud noises sound can be easily treated but other conditions would need special care and other set of treatments. A doctor needs to work in co-ordination with a mental health professional to work out the best treatment options in such cases.

Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises in Small Children

It is common to have several type of fears during childhood and most of the fears go off on their own as the child grows up. Fear to loud noises just be a part of other fears in children. However, this fear can sometimes turn into phonophobia or fear of loud noises, even in case of small children that can haunt them lifelong. Thus, it is necessary to refer to a mental medical professional if the fear of sound exists for more than six months in children.

Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises in Adults

Fear of sound may sound very silly and thus most of the adults or teenagers tend to avoid sharing their condition to save themselves from embarrassment. Phonophobia or fear of loud noises makes it harder for a person to enjoy quality time with friends in restaurant or bar, work in noisy environments or even walk on a busy street. Teenagers can struggle in their studies as they are unable to concentrate in class and spend time with friends in a noisy environment. This forces them to stay isolated and away from noise.

In case of some individuals, phonophobia or fear of loud noises may also make it harder for a person to sleep and stay alone in dark as even the small noises can be feel like highly disturbing and annoying.

Causes of Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

Phonophobia or fear of loud noises can be caused directly or as a symptom of an underlying condition.

Fear to loud sounds comes naturally into human beings. Loud and shrill sounds can trigger an instant reaction to protect yourself from danger. The chances of phonophobia or fear of loud noises is higher in case of children as compared to adults as they have stronger sensitivity to noise, even when they are infants or in the womb. If a person experiences a trauma resulting out of loud sound, the whole incident gets stored into the mind of a person. Whenever a person faces any loud sound, his mind straightway links it to the incident leading to a phobia. It is part of a natural response of the body to protect itself.

Phonophobia can easily be linked to serious illnesses such as anxiety disorder, hyperacusis, misophonia, adrenal insufficiency etc... There is one other condition called autism, that is linked to phonophobia or fear of loud noises closely. Everyone has his own way or reacting to sounds. Even members belonging to a same family can show different reactions to sounds. Reactions can vary from migraine headaches to post traumatic stress disorders including Ligyrophobia. Every person has a unique ability to cope up with the noise and thus reacts differently to the situation. Some people are able to cope up with loud sounds in a better way than others and that is what differentiates one person from another.

Signs and Symptoms of Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

Level of fear to sound can vary from one patient of phonophobia or fear of loud noises to another. Thus, different patients would show different types of signs and symptoms varying in nature and intensity. Some might show an urgency to escape from the noisy environment while others may reveal mild symptoms like sweating, fainting etc... People suffering from phonophobia or fear of loud noises usually show extreme reactions.

One of the most common reactions of patients with phonophobia or fear of loud noises is to avoid such events, places or environments where there is a possibility of production of loud sound. Such situations and environments may include noisy marketplaces, loud fireworks, busy highways, crossings, crowded cities etc... It can be highly embarrassing for people with phonophobia or fear of loud noises to react awkwardly in the crowd which restricts them from leading a normal life. Such individuals cannot concentrate on their work in office and feel unusual restlessness all the time. Hence, their condition have a serious impact on their professional and personal lives.

Phonophobia or fear of loud noises can force teenagers to stay away from participating in sports activities or enjoy sports in a noisy stadium. They can easily panic or get traumatized in such situations and can be seen covering their ears to avoid such situations. This hampers their personal life and stops them from socializing with their family and friends. Even the members of the family including parents can feel highly embarrassing due to their child's behaviour.

Following is the list of some common signs and symptoms of phonophobia or fear of loud noises:

  • Panic attack is a major symptom of phonophobia or fear of loud noises.
  • Fainting.
  • Urgency to escape .
  • Nausea or dizziness.
  • Extreme mood swing in reaction to loud sound.
  • Extreme fear of loud sounds.
  • Excessive Sweating.
  • Irregular heartbeat.

Risk Factors for Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

Following are some of the factors that can increase the risk of phonophobia or fear of loud noises:

  • The age of a person is a risk factor. Risk of developing phonophobia or fear of loud noises is higher in children under the age of 13 years. Symptoms of phonophobia may start to appear in children under the age of 10 years.
  • Phobia can easily be derieved for any of the members in the family. If someone in the family has some phobia of snakes, spiders etc... then it increases the risk of developing phobia in kids. It happens because children grow up watching such members react awkwardly to such situations and they may also adopt the same.
  • Your temperament can be a risk factor for phonophobia or fear of loud noises. Occurrence of phonophobia or fear of loud noises can also depend on your temperament or mental strength to face your fears. A sensitive person is more at risk of developing phonophobia or fear of loud noises.
  • A traumatic event in the past can be a factor of risk for phonophobia or fear of loud noises. Phobia can also result due to some traumatic event that can have a long lasting effect on mind. Past events can develop a permanent fear into mind transforming into phobia.

Complications in Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

Going through phonophobia or fear of loud noises can be silly for the spectators but can be extremely tough for the person himself. It can complicate several aspects of the life of an individual:

  • Social isolation is a complication of phonophobia or fear of loud noises. The natural tendency of a person to avoid his family and friends or specific places can have serious impact on their academic and work efficiency. They tend to lead an isolated life which prevent them spending a quality social life and learning necessary skills.
  • Depression is a complication of phonophobia or fear of loud noises. It is common to get into depression or develop anxiety disorders.
  • Loneliness and isolation makes them prone to substance abuse..
  • Some patients may also start to have thoughts of suicide.

Tests to Diagnose Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

Phonophobia or fear of loud noises cannot be determined by any type of lab tests. There are specific diagnostic guidelines including clinical interviews to detect phonophobia or fear of loud noises. The interview consists of questions related to symptoms and medical history.

Phonophobia or fear of loud noises is diagnosed on the basis of the diagnostic criteria set by American Psychiatric Association in Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The manual works as a standard to help doctors in determining the condition of patients. It is also used as a standard by insurance companies

How is Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises Treated?

Phonophobia or fear of loud noises can be treated using clinical therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT. The therapy helps a patient to learn and become aware of his or her fear of sound and face their fears.

Exposure therapy which is a form of CBT is also shows good results in treating phonophobia or fear of loud noises. In this therapy, a person is intentionally exposed to his fear under controlled circumstances to help him learn to cope up.

Choice of treatment depends on various factors including severity of phonophobia or fear of loud noises and preference of the patients as to what makes them more comfortable. Counselling sessions with experts can help the professional to understand your origin of fears, that can be used to help you face your fears. Some professionals also recommend self-help techniques such as hypnotherapy, muscle relaxation or spending time with support groups to learn best ways to face your fears. Self Talk is also a good option to motivate yourself against fears.

  1. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) for Treating Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

    Neuro-Linguistic is related to the fact that how our mind perceives things as real. In terms of NLP, a phobia results due to some constructs created my our mind that does not really exist in reality. Neuro-Linguistic Programming helps in reprogramming our mind to differentiate between real and virtual world and get rid of phonophobia or fear of loud noises. It is an effective technique with quick results.

  2. Hypnotherapy to Treat Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

    Hypnotherapy can help in treating phonophobia or fear of loud noises. Hypnotherapy is used to go deep into your subconscious mind to find the possible reasons of fear and then try to get those fears out of your brain. It is an effective therapy that can significantly reduce the symptoms of phonophobia or fear of loud noises. However, some patients are not very comfortable with the idea of allowing someone to control their mind.

Another Treatment Mode for Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises is Energy Psychology

Energy Psychology is increasingly becoming a popular therapy from treating various types of phobias including phonophobia or fear of loud noises. It is an effective and safe therapy with long lasting effects. It has been established after some 2000 years of studies and based on the same foundation as acupuncture. However, no needles are used in this therapy. It is like a mental acupuncture therapy that works directly on your mind.

Energy psychology for phonophobia or fear of loud noises offers several advantages to the patients without causing any type of side effect. Some of them are as follows:

  • You can experience a quick change in your behaviour.
  • You can have better self-control.
  • You can respond to or take other therapies effectively.
  • You can gain a better approach to tackle your fears.

Home Remedies for Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

The best home remedy for phonophobia or fear of loud noises is to ensure that there are no such sources or events in your immediate environment that can cause loud noise and trigger your fear. You can also let your friends and family know about your fears who can assist you in creating a happy surrounding.

Coping with Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

The main aim of professional treatments is to help you in managing and treating your phonophobia or fear of loud noises effectively so that you are not captivated into your fears. You can also develop some techniques on your own to cope up with your fears.

  • Do not run away from phonophobia or fear of loud noises. Try to face your fears instead of avoiding them. Seek help from your friends, family and doctor..
  • Look for support groups. Support groups let you meet other people going through the same phonophobia or fear of loud noises. You can interact with them and exchange key ideas and strategies to cope up with the fears.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Phonophobia or Fear of Loud Noises

The recovery period or healing time from your phonophobia or fear of loud noises can vary from person to person. It depends on several factors such as severity of fears and mode of treatment. Refer your doctor to know more about recovery time in your case.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: October 12, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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