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I am highly sensitive to noise and I don't know why?

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 I am super senstive to noise. e.g. door slamming esp. the fridge door. I can't tolerate cooking noise. does anyone have a similar experience? I don't know why I suffer from this. I have developed this senstivity recently. I used to live next to a big kitchen in a place like a dorm. could that be the reason? now, I can't stand any sound that comes from slamming doors, cooking, loud music, heavy- footers.

what is the solution? I am trying to put this into consideration when moving into a new place. Thanks.

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Could it be a side effect of migraine headaches?

Original Post by nycgirl:

Could it be a side effect of migraine headaches?

 But I don't have any migraine headaches. I just can't stand simple noise and have become very sensitive. does that mean i should for the most quiet place to stay in or try to expose myself to some noise? I don't know.

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First thing I thought was migraine, but you do not have a headache so I don't know what to say.

When that happens to me I aviod the loud noise as much as I can but I am also trying to rest in bed because of the headache.

some people have extra sharp hearing. You may be one of those. My mother has it and my daughter too. My mother can actually tell you what type of coin just hit the floor because they make different sounds. My daughter used it to her advantage in a practical way with music.

When I was underweight and malnourished due to my ED, every noise, even people talking was sometimes unbearable to me, it was the same with lights. I'm not suggesting you are malnurished, that's just another take on things.

Original Post by emmabrody:

When I was underweight and malnourished due to my ED, every noise, even people talking was sometimes unbearable to me, it was the same with lights. I'm not suggesting you are malnurished, that's just another take on things.

I am actualy obese.

Have you had a cold recently? Could you have a sinus infection?

Also, issues with your teeth (cavities, grinding) can also make you more sensitive to sound.

Sounds like a problem of acclimatisation.  Live in a naturally noisy environment and you'd be desensitised to noise.  Live in an unnaturally quiet environment and tiny sounds become very 'loud'.    You find it in babies quite a lot... those that are used to a noisy house with lots of people can sleep soundly through the most hideous din.  The ones from very quiet households will wake up at the slightest disturbance.

I'd suggest deliberately upping the background noise of your environment... turning on the radio & TV, for example.

How old are you?  I found that I became way more sensitive to noise as I approach menopause (hormones).  What you are experiencing is a stress response and associated anxiety.  I get anxious even anticipating a loud noise.  It also sounds that you are sensitive to unexpected, brief loud noises.  How are you with loud music of your choosing?  This is o.k. with me but if I have to listen to loud music that is not of my choosing, I get very anxious and start biting my nails.


Tell me more.  In the meantime, I would avoid loud noises b/c of the associated anxiety.  I try to live in a quiet, relaxed environment which keeps my stress down.  Remember, stress (cortisol) can contribute to holding onto weight.



Sensitivity to certain sounds can be a symptoms of Aspergers (low spectrum autism).

I have extreme sensitivity to nosie. That is why I live alone and also have a hard time with apartments due to noise. My family is similar though. Some for me is I am very sensitive sleeper. A small noise and I am up and some is anxiety I think. People who pop gum or play loud music for ex driving me nuts. For me I have found the only thing I can do is to try to either not be in that situation or if I am to distract myself. For me when I look for a place which I am doing I try to be on a top floor in a condo or apartment,on an end if possible or seperate home if that is possible,no main roads near,trains,etc. Some is what neighbors you will have which is hard to know before hand. Hang in there

I'm not generally sensitive to noise, except when I am very anxious. However at any mood I do find certain frequencies will drive me batty. Not just the normal such as finger nails on chalk board, but other sounds, such as someone turning pages that rub against something like cloth.

Has this always been that case, or just recently.

Some people have sensory issues, where everything is where everything is experienced more intensly than the average person.  I have problems with some smells others like (for ex bananas)

I am also sensitive to certain textures, mainly in fabrics, as well as how clothes fit. I was a nightmare to shop for as a child, and still find it hard sometimes. nsory-processing-disorder-checklist.html mainly written about children, but may also apply to adults

PS certain medication can also cause sensitivty to noise

Signs Of Auditory Dysfunction: (no diagnosed hearing problem)


1. Hypersensitivity To Sounds (Auditory Defensiveness):


__ distracted by sounds not normally noticed by others; i.e., humming of lights or refrigerators, fans, heaters, or clocks ticking

__ fearful of the sound of a flushing toilet (especially in public bathrooms), vacuum, hairdryer, squeaky shoes, or a dog barking

__ started with or distracted by loud or unexpected sounds

__ bothered/distracted by background environmental sounds; i.e., lawn mowing or outside construction

__ frequently asks people to be quiet; i.e., stop making noise, talking, or singing

__ runs away, cries, and/or covers ears with loud or unexpected sounds

__ may refuse to go to movie theaters, parades, skating rinks, musical concerts etc.

__ may decide whether they like certain people by the sound of their voice


being highly sensitive to noise is a common characteristic of people who experience a range of anxiety disorders.  there is work you can do with a therapist to help you revisit your approach to noise. 

Thanks, guys. I appreciate all the inputs.

I don't think this is autism. I googled the symptoms and I don't have any of these ( thank God). I agree with those who said it is related to anxiety. 

augenblick,  I suffered from hormone imbalance when I dropped a good amount of weight. my doctor told me that my prestogone ( spelling?) is very low. but now I got this corrected after I put the weight on. I agree with you that I am senstive to unexpected brief loud music. 

this problem started in 2008 when I had an incident that made me tremble and then I started experiencing anxiety when I hear slamming doors or cooking noise. the girl who  lived next to my room used to slam her cabinet door, drawers and I was freaking out when I hear the bangs.. 

so now, the stress is more because I am going to move into a new place. my doctor told me last week that my  DHEA adrenal glands is high and I need to see an endocrinologist. 

my thyroid is fine. 

so now, do I need to expose myself to some noise or stay in a very quiet place?

Exaggerated startle response, as it is called, occurs in some people for a variety of reasons.

The first is a higher vagal tone at birth. Just born sensitive. It is not that you have acute hearing, it is rather that your brain processes unexpected noises differently from the 'norm'.

The second is a traumatic event either in childhood or later on, which seems most likely for you given what you have posted. Essentially the event reprograms the brain to start responding to unexpected noises with a stress response cascade.

Your adrenal glands are part of the stress response cascade and they can get exhausted with the constant triggering that occurs with an exaggerated startle response.

As you may not be able to remove yourself from the environment to de-stress, some common solutions are the addition of white/pink/brown noise to your environment.

Things like air cleaners or de-humidifiers in your room can create these kinds of background noise that can muffle the unexpected noises and help mediate your stress response. You can even find websites that will play white/pink/brown noise as well.

Going to quiet places throughout the day (library or a park) can also help.

Cognitive behavioral and de-sensitization therapy is critical for you now as the incident is recent. The best window to reprogram a brain that has been affected by a traumatic event (your incident when you found yourself trembling) is to undergo CBT and de-sensitization within two years of the event. So you should start now.

Whereas those born with an exaggerated startle response must adjust their lives and surroundings, you have an opportunity to eradicate the condition with intervention now.

Best of luck.

so do you think living in a quiet place will help me?

It could, however I think you may have real success overcoming the issue altogether with intervention as soon as possible (psychological counseling as I mentioned).

The challenge with finding a quiet place is that things/people/other renters around you can and do always change. Dealing with the anxiety at the source (your brain) is always preferable to trying to control your environment.

just curious, hedgren, why does the intervention have to be within two years of the event? what will happen if i is done after two years? probably I will not get the same result? right? and until I find the magic solution to my noise sensitivety problem ( I mean the therapist, I know it will take time till I find a good one), what should I do or avoid? 

There can be quite a few causes of noise sensitivity.

Vitamin or mineral deficiency.


Ear, sinus infection, viral infection.

Reaction to certain medications. Are you on any kind of medication?


Migraine, Bell's Palsy, anemia, meningitis, encephalitis, tinnitus

Alcohol or drug use/abuse

I would make an appointment with your Dr. if this is a new symptom. Could be something, could be nothing but you want to get it checked out. .htm


Original Post by safina1:

just curious, hedgren, why does the intervention have to be within two years of the event? what will happen if i is done after two years? probably I will not get the same result? right? and until I find the magic solution to my noise sensitivety problem ( I mean the therapist, I know it will take time till I find a good one), what should I do or avoid? 

It's the old adage that neurons that fire together wire together.

Most people who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or panic attacks or phobias can trace their condition to a specific event from which point the symptoms arose (in your case a new level of sensitivity to noise after an unpleasant event in 2008).

Several studies on the development of phobias as well as PTSD have shown that when a combination of desensitization and CBT is used within the first two years of the original triggering event, the outcomes for complete recovery are strongest.

The brain can always be retrained but it is thought that the more ingrained the pattern is (the patient sees spider and experiences a severe stress response or hears unexpected noise and experiences a severe stress response, as examples) the more effort the person must put towards 'unwiring' the unacceptable pattern and 'wiring in' a new pattern.

Each time the pattern is triggered in your brain, the connections between those neurons gets stronger and stronger.

You've probably heard the phrase "If you fall off, get back on that horse again as soon as you can." Well it actually has some neurological truth. If you get right back on a horse that has thrown you, then you give the brain an immediate opportunity to have a new positive experience which greatly reduces the strength of the neurons that were fired-up by being thrown in the first place.

Fear, panic and the cascade of anxiety is a pattern that is reinforced when we ruminate and think about the event after the fact -- those neurons are fired up every time we do this which reinforces the fear and unpleasantness.

The two-year mark is not some magical cut-off point and any patient will improve with desensitization and CBT no matter when they undergo treatment -- it is just more work and more sessions to get the outcomes that improve your quality of life the longer you leave it.

Ideally you don't want to avoid anything as that often broadens the condition over time and you can become completely incapable of leaving your home. While retreating to places and areas that provide respite is good, attempting to create an environment with no unexpected noises leads to more generalized anxieties.

The best bet is a visit to your library and pick up any book on anxiety disorders or PTSD, any workbooks for self-administering desensitization. I think I've already recommended to you Holly Hazlett-Stevens book "Women Who Worry Too Much" as a good start as well. It is possible to learn the techniques for desensitization and relaxation yourself and to practice them until such time as you have professional support.

However, professional therapy is ideal. This is particularly the case for these conditions because the patient naturally veers towards avoiding which leads to increased levels of the disorder and further erosion of their quality of life.

Self-help in these areas is hard because anything that makes you uncomfortable will likely feel insurmountable. You will need an external cheerleader and guide (a therapist) to help you take it on and succeed.

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