Hyperacusis and misophonia are often confused. They both fall under the umbrella of ‘decreased sound tolerance’. Even for doctors, it can be hard to tell them apart. But it’s essential to know the difference between hyperacusis and misophonia to find way the best way to cope.
Rage vs. Pain
Do you hate the sound of people chewing, pens clicking, plates clattering and paper crinkling? All of them? Diagnosis: hyperacusis. Yep, really. Let’s start with explaining misphonia and hyperacusis, that will hopefully clear up a lot for you!
The big difference between the two, is the way you react to noise. With misophonia, noise triggers rage. When you suddenly hear a sound, no matter how loud, it induces rage. Even sounds that aren’t loud can cause misophonia. And o yes, misophonia is most of the time inherited.
With hyperacusis, however, noise leads to pain. Hyperacusis usually starts because of overexposure to noise. After this first overexposure, ‘ordinary’ sounds can suddenly feel painful. It can happen that hyperacusis comes with tinnitus (ringing in the ears), however, this isn’t always the case. Still, constant pain in the ear canal is one of the symptoms of hyperacusis.
Triggers, triggers and more triggers
There is an other big difference between misphonia and hyperacusis, and that is the way that someone reacts to triggers. With hyperacusis, a (late) reaction on a trigger can linger for days or even weeks/months. This reaction is physical pain and therefore can be very distracting and overwhelming. With misophonia, however, the symptoms are felt through the whole body. Anger and/or panic manifest and are expressed through a quickened hartbeat, sweaty palms, emotions, and often a feeling of tightness in the chest. These reactions, however, often dissapear as fast as they came.
Take an ambulance passing by with sirens blazing. For someone with hyperacusis, this can lead to months of pain and sensitivity. A person with misophonia will react very differently. If this is a trigger, someone will react with anger and/or panic. However, loud noises don’t always have to be a trigger and may not even trigger that person’ misophonia…
Source: misophonia international