Phonophobia is an anxiety disorder, not a hearing disorder. It is a fear of loud sounds. The name “Phonophobia” originates from the Greek words for sound and fear.
It’s not a hearing disorder
Sudden loud and unexpected sound can cause anxiety attacks in a person who suffers from the disorder. People with Phonophobia may be fearful of devices that can suddenly emit loud sounds, such as alarms.
For example, listening to music that starts with a minute of silence and then suddenly goes into loud music would be extremely startling for most people, assuming they had no prior knowledge of the content of it. Being startled is in itself a normal reaction, but the key difference is that people with Phonophobia actively fear such an occurrence.
Another example is watching someone blow up a balloon beyond its normal capacity. This is often an unsettling, even disturbing thing for a person with Phonophobia to observe, as he or she anticipates a loud sound when the balloon pops.
It shares a number of symptoms with other anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Desire to flee
- Intense fear of loud sounds
- Excessive Sweating
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nausea or dizziness
- Panic Attack
- Severe mood swings after hearing the loud sound
There is no single, proven treatment available that can cure Phonophobia. However, popular types of therapy have proven useful in helping people cope with the symptoms associated with it. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy are among the most popular. They can be used in combination with prescription medication to help reduce anxiety and ease stress.
Phonophobia should not be confused with hyperacusis (over-sensitivity to certain sounds) or misophonia (strong reaction to specific sounds). But Phonophobia may sometimes refer to an extreme form of misophonia.