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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Q. Are You Noise Intolerant?

By December 14, 2010

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People must think that I hate music, movies, parties or basically anything that is fun. That is not the case at all. It is just that these things tend to be so LOUD.

A comment from a reader about her own inability to tolerate noise really struck home. My need for things to be just a little bit quieter is such a part of me that I guess I completely forgot to think of it as another one of my "MS quirks." However, thinking about it, I know that this is part of MS - it is almost surely a part of cognitive dysfunction, as any noise really eats up every bit of capacity I have to think about anything else. Turn up the volume even a little bit and it becomes almost painful, to the point that all I am thinking about is how to make it stop.

This has been a constant problem for at least 10 years (a couple of those years were even before I was diagnosed with MS). Some of the ways this manifests are:

  • I am unable to carry on a conversation at a party or at a dinner where there are other people talking, as I cannot maintain any sort of attention span for either what the other person is saying or how I can respond in a normal manner.
  • I become almost catatonic when the television or music is turned up past a certain volume, as I frantically search for a "Zen-like" quiet place in my head.
  • Certain types of sounds really disturb me. Cello music, for instance, feels like it is burrowing through my brain in an almost painful way. There are certain people whose guffaws and giggles make me almost violent (however, I am willing to consider the possibility that might be another form of lack of tolerance that has nothing to do with MS).

I wish I didn't have this problem. I want to be more fun, instead of the person with the grimace so deep that my eyebrows almost touch while other people are enjoying raucous music or crowd noises. However, it is what it is, and I have learned how to deal with it - mainly by avoiding certain stores with loud music, certain people with loud voices and certain situations where people are cheering or booing at a television.

What about you? Do you enjoy loud music? Can you sit through loud movie previews thinking anything but, "I hope the movie isn't this loud, or I'll have to leave?" What tips do you have for those of us who suffer when the volume is up? Share your story in the comments section below.

Read more about noise, cognitive dysfunction and MS:

December 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm
(1) Matt says:

I have only been diagnosed for about 6 months but I notice this. I definitely can’t have music playing while I’m trying to concentrate on something else.

If I’m driving on the freeway, I prefer that other people not talk, so I rarely do it with someone else in the car.

I don’t think my MS is that bad yet, so I wonder if my lesions are just in the right places or if this is something that’s very easily affected by small changes to the brain. Then again, I always imagine we have MS for a long time and by the time we start showing symptoms that means our MS is bad enough that the brain can’t rewire around them.

December 14, 2010 at 11:28 pm
(2) Judy says:

It is not so much the volume as it is the “mood” of the piece, and which mood is appropriate changes from moment to moment. But, like you, I rarely listen to music on the radio or sound system, a real loss for someone who used to be a musician. It is also a loss for my husband who misses having music on in the house and in the car. But whatever is the irritating music of the moment increases my muscle and nerve tension, and I often don’t realize just how much until the music is turned off and a sigh of relief goes throughout my body.

December 15, 2010 at 3:46 am
(3) Emily says:

I’ve had pretty bad MS going on 12+ years, and I can’t say I have a problem with the volume of things. Obviously I don’t like when it’s too loud at the movies or a music concert, but I find many forms of music more soothing than anything. With my cognitive impairment, I do find it hard to follow the conversation when everyone is talking at the same time, which I didn’t used to have problems with. Oh, and to be silly, can’t they make the MRI’s just a little softer please. *smiles*

December 15, 2010 at 11:46 am
(4) D Cagle says:

Wow…this is another one of those revelations that astound me…I thought I was the only one! I have been diagnosed for 5+ years and noticed it very quickly. If the TV shows go to commercial (and it’s super loud as we all know compared to the show you’re watching) I am scrambling to find the mute button on the remote… And I used to be able to listen to music and work, and now I have to turn things off to concentrate. When multiple sounds are happening in a room I find it hard to focus on one of them, like in a loud restaurant and someone trying to talk to me. Some may be just an intolerance to loud sounds, but I know for certain that I never reacted so prominently to sounds like I do now…

December 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm
(5) Bambi says:

Julie, Some of what you are describing is what I call sensory overload. If I am at a loud function with many people talking, kids running around, etc. I will suddenly get overwhelmed with a need for quiet and many times, fatigue.

December 15, 2010 at 12:18 pm
(6) Teresa says:

I have this exact problem but never associated it with MS until I read this. My problems go a little further, a constant low sound like the bathroom fan makes me feel angry. That is the only way I can think of to describe it. My entire body tenses up and it makes my head hurt. I’ve told my doctors about this and they just kind of look at me weird. This has been a hard symptom to deal with since I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years at concerts like Metallica, Ozzy etc. Now lots of noise is very distracting and sometimes even makes me feel faint. It’s oddly comforting to know other people have this problem, I was starting to think I was losing it.

December 15, 2010 at 12:45 pm
(7) Peter says:

I was diagnosed 12 years ago and started noticing these types of problems probably 7-8 years ago.. I have a really hard time when I’m in a large group and there are multiple conversations (drives me nuts).. Oh well just one of those things you learn to live with. Happy holidays all !

December 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm
(8) Dottie says:

I’m in agreement with everyone, and I’m another that is glad to hear that it is the MS talking. I had never given it a thought, and I assumed it was my age. I’m 73, and have had MS since I was about 10 years old, though I was only diagnosed in 2004. It seems that the noise intolerance has gradually built up over the years, until now, I’d rather just be home alone, then anywhere else. Everyone thinks I have become a hermit, now I can tell them it is the MS talking!

December 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm
(9) DK says:

I love what you write Julie because you make me feel as if I am not alone. I have felt this way and it has become a part of who I am so much that I almost forgot that it isn’t normal. But when I have tried to describe it to my husband, who is willing to listen, I tell him it makes my “brain hurt” and that I simply cannot process like he does.

At 1st it was very humbling, but now that I realize that this is part of one of the many MS symptoms I have learned how to “manage” it the best I can and try to function at the level that I need to without it “hurting”. I mean, it really does get to the point where it does hurt – making my head hurt when I am feeling my MS fatigue at it’s worst.

December 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm
(10) Jensequitur says:

I have all sorts of noise problems.

First, the description of the sound of the cello boring into your brain – I get this with electric guitar. Electric guitar noise, especially that clear sine-wave sort of WHEEEEEEEE! noise really is like a drill in my head. I find it impossible to think when that is going on.

I have a bit of overload when it comes to general noise. I find large crowds overwhelming, and I can get irrationally irritated about it. Sometimes I have the urge (if I’m in the grocery store) to shove other people out of the way with my cart!

Sometimes if I’m fatigued, or just on my bad days, I have a real sensitivity to any sort of noise – the clack of Scrabble tiles on the tray, or setting drinks down. It makes me flinch. The CLANG! of the trash can is like a blow to the head.

I think they call that hyperacusis – noise sensitivity.

I used to take a cotton ball and cut it in half, then stick a half in each ear. It muffles a little bit of noise, but you can still hear people’s conversations.

Recently I’ve noticed some high-end hearing loss, and I seem to be hearing less out of my left ear – which makes it less easy to hear what’s going on with a cotton ball in my ear. So I’ve stopped doing the cotton ball thing for a minute, until my hearing resolves.

December 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm
(11) Anna says:

I am okay with the volume but if it gets too hectic and I am trying to think then I get very frustrated because the ideas cannot even begin to form in my brain. Example: At an amusement park on a busy night, trying to coordinate with the family what to do next while trying to figure out the best way to get around the park because they all are looking at you for direction. I wish they would make up my mind for me.

December 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm
(12) Thelma says:

Sudden noise REALLY startles/scares me and makes me jump.

April 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm
(13) Barbara Muniz says:

Hi, Thelma,

I read your article dated (12/15/2010) and I feel the same thing. Sometimes, the jump comes without any sound, and I have to hold myself. I feel ashamed and when somebody notices, I give an excuse like “I rode my bicycle too long hours”. It has made me shameful in a way and uncomfortable.

Have y heard anything new from your doctor or in other articles?

Thank y for your reply,
Sincerely (and hope you have improved since then!)

e-mail: muniz.barb@gmail.com

December 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm
(14) Jennifer says:

Thank you so very much for sharing your problems with NOISE, and brining the topic to the table.

I was DX with MS just 8 months ago & started having neuro issues, 13 months ago.

Noise issues were my very first issue & continue to this day & seem to get worse. I can’t deal with hardly watching tv, I can’t drive with the radio on, I can hardly tolerate the voice of my teenage daughter. I HATE making phones calls for my appointments, or answering the phone. I’ve isolated myself from family & friends on many levels because of this issue.

December 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm
(15) Wendy says:

I was diagnosed in January 2010 with MS, but my dr. thinks I’ve had it at least 10 years and I have been bothered by sounds for at least the same number of years. I often use foam ear plugs to soften or drown out noises that bother me. I always sleep with them to keep sounds that jar me awake from coming through. My nervous system is definitely sensitive and I get overloaded easily.

December 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm
(16) betty f says:

Loud sounds are a horrible problem to deal with, especially when it is the family talking and laughing and the grandkids yelling! The television is the worst – commercials are so loud. It almost hurts. My husband who has hearing problems plays the shows on the loud side – and then does not turn it down for the commercials. So many people do not understand how much discomfort it is. Send me to a desert island!

December 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm
(17) Cindy says:

Oh, yeah! I can relate! The worse place is Wal-Mart. They have now put little monitors on the ends of the isles that play non stop commercials for Wal-Mart and the item on that particular shelf. Then they have more hanging from the ceiling and still more at the registers. All that, in combination with all of the noise of kids, people talking, the register beeping as it scans, etc. is enough to send me out the door. When I get away from the noise it takes me a little while to get over it. I thought it was just me. Who knew it could be another one of those MS things no one can explain.

December 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm
(18) Sandi says:

I was diagnosed with MS right after the birth of my first child 21 years ago. Over the last few years i am noticing that i am unable to follow conversations if sitting amongst a large group of people who are all talking or if there is a consistent droning in the background (ie. coffee shop). I am here to point out that it is better to accept your limitations for what they are and not try to disguise the otherwise hidden factors. Make it a great day!

December 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm
(19) Amber says:

Thank you for letting me know that I am not “oversensitive” or any of the other terms I get called when loud noises make me angry. I have had MS for 30 years and caused a few scenes by trying to get neighbours to shut up. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t bother others. Funny I can stand a lovely dog bark for ages (not yappy little ones) but loud people drive me nuts. How about the group of cackling women – eek. I am so much happier in a country home surrounded by quiet or soothing sounds of nature. Sometimes I have to resort to ear plugs. Another thing that people just can’t understand and never will unless they have MS.

December 15, 2010 at 4:09 pm
(20) Olivia says:

Loud music, television make me nervous.

December 15, 2010 at 4:10 pm
(21) Carolyn says:

I was diagnosed with vertigo before the MS. It’s been 18 months now. I’ve always listened to music with my whole body. Every cell in my body registers the sounds, never localized to my ears. So I still enjoy the music without a glitch. What has changed is my ability to process a lot of activity. For instance, a walk through Times Square will create yukky headaches and “vertigo”.

Fluorescent lights used to bother me, but now my nervous system has almost zero tolerance…so going to the supermarket, any place that is expansive, like Home Depot or the Mall always leaves me needing to sit down before I faint.

Having been hypervigilant “before” now it has magnified to stupefying levels of intolerance. Like many of you who’ve posted here, a quiet corner is much preferred than the accost of parties. 5 mins of total shut down and shut out is a wonderful recharge.

The internal noise level of (my own propensity to) multitasking 10 or more projects at once is also a thing of the past now. So for me the most change has been my system simply not allowing me to act like I’m superwoman…

To all my fellow beloved friends, here, try to listen to your previous favorite music with all your body, gently. Make believe your legs, your arms, your chest, your heart are ears and let the music fill you. Let your cells dance, being filled with joy. Try it, for me? Here I am dancing, dance with me, smile with me: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZViJURzPTcU&quot;

December 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm
(22) Andy says:

I have had MS for 20+ years and if anything background noise bothers me less than most people I know. I listen to the radio in my car louder than my wife likes and when concentrating, as when I am playing Scrabble at my club, the music and noise in the restaurant bother me less than it does the other members of the club. On the other hand, my mom, who also has MS, has always been intolerant of loud or excessive background noise. I think it is very individual.

December 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm
(23) InletGirl says:

What a revelation! I was diagnosed with MS in ’93; and although I do not live my life focusing on MS, I have to bring it up when I have surgery or when I read an article such as this. My brain is so intolerant of loud tv commercials, neighbors stomping overhead, disordered noise, loud voices. I just looked up the appropriate word: CACOPHONY. My whole nervous system is affected. I’ve come to live a more isolated life to keep down discord.

December 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm
(24) Beverly says:

One of my flare-ups included temporary loss of hearing in my right ear. It has come back some what but some days I just have muffled hearing in my right ear.
When my daughter got married I felt like I was antisocial because there was too much loud music and talking. I can’t disassociate background noise. I have to be in a quiet place and have a one on one conversation.

December 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm
(25) Velma says:

I agree with all of you. Noise is very distracting and when I go to the movies I take earplugs and just put them in far enough to tone it down. When the noice is too loud I get ‘lightening flashes’ in my head. I can’t concentrate on ANYTHING if more than one this is going on at a time. etc, etc, etc. Noise is extremely hard to live with.

December 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm
(26) Denise says:

I’ve noticed this as well. My husband is hard of hearing and turns the volume up on the TV. For the past 11 years, I’ve told him to please turn it down. If I can hear it upstairs in my room, then it is definitely too loud. I don’t go to parties because of the noise. If other people around me are talking and I’m trying to talk with someone, it nearly drives me crazy. I just can’t concentrate on my conversation. I too thought I was the only one that this happened to.

December 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm
(27) Marla says:


I can only tolerate sound to a certain level:
Let it be a commercial on t.v., a motorcycle passing by on the road or a motorcycle next to me while at a stop, when people raise thier voices, or in a restaurant when people are conversing, certain pitches of guitars, or even when a person is talking to me, it’s as if the person is literally in my ear yelling (as is the motorcycle in my ear or the guitar pitch is in my ear.)
My husband also likes to turn up the level of the t.v., as I try and find a medium level for the both of us.
Movies, forget it!
I have not been to a movie in years.
Not only the sound, but when the scenes change on the screen,
that draws more pain to my left eye!
I, too, have become a person who stays at home (where I can take control of sound.)

From car horns honking to sirens from an emergency vehicle going off.

Also, when it is quiet, and then there is noise, oh my goodness!

As my husband says “Anything else on the list?”

December 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm
(28) Debra says:

After reading the article about noise and MS, I found myself feeling a little bit less crazy! Amazingly, I have had some noise intolerance most of my life even before actual diagnosis.
Opera voices, mostly the soprano ranges are so irritating to me, loud rock music, and television. I find myself so distracted and find my nerves shaking and feeling angry on edge.
I never knew or thought it to be part of ms related to cognition loss. Makes sense to me now. Unfortunatly, doesn’t change anything just makes me feel so not alone! Thanks for sharing on this subject.

December 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm
(29) Suzanne says:

My husband thinks I’m crazy when I tell him that the TV is too loud. It almost hurts! He’s a former drummer in a band, so you can imagine how his hearing is failing. It’s not easy living in separate worlds. I am so happy to know that I’m not alone!!!I thought that maybe I was being oversensitive. Now I know that I am! Ha!

December 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm
(30) Chantillie says:

I do not have MS, but recently completed treatment for hearing sensitivity due to a concussion back in June. Much of what has been described above reflects my experience. For 6 months I had to change my lifestyle, reduce activities with my young children, and wear ear plugs around what used to be considered “normal” sounds for me. When I endure these trying physical issues, my sensitivity to others improves. Although my problem seems to have been resolved (albeit horrifically expensive to treat), my understanding of this in a chronic sense became very real. My beautiful and patient teacher–who happens to have MS–has a helping hand from the big guy upstairs in passing on lessons in life based on perseverance with a permanent life-altering condition. I hope that those of you making these comments have the opportunity to teach others like myself how to seek potential, show sensitivity, and manage energy to live life to its fullest.

December 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm
(31) Janis says:

OH BOY – you picked a winner this time! Even talking on the phone for more than a few minutes gives me terrible headaches! I rarely go to movies anymore, and when I do go to one I consider is worth the big screen, I take ear plugs which only help a little. Noise and crowds-which usually occur together-sends me into a really bad mood. I try to be tolerant, but the pain it causes is just too much. Therefore I now have to avoid one of my favorite activities-shopping at WalMart!

December 16, 2010 at 1:09 am
(32) Rebecca Michael says:

Wow, I’m happy to hear that I’m not the only one! Sensory overload is what I call it too and the ear-plugs in my purse come in handy. I have friends that like to “go casino hopping” and I’d much rather hang at home. Casino or parade noises jangle my nerves, and the effects stay with me for a few days.

When I was a kid, my grandmother took me to the county fair every summer to ride the tilt-a-whirl. I took my grandaughter to that same county fair and realized that this was a tradition that was gonna die. I didn’t walk straight for at least a week after that tilt-a-whirl ride.

I think my sense of smell is super-human too!

December 16, 2010 at 2:04 am
(33) Irma from Gold Coast, Australia (Oprah country) says:

Me too! I apologise to all those neighbours in London I annoyed years ago with loud music. I used to go to raves and parties and I loved it. I was diagnosed in 2001 but had symptoms since 1996. I can’t handle loud/sudden noise. It makes me feel angry, stressed, anxious and out of control. I can’t have more than one conversation going on around me because I can’t concentrate. And high pitched noise from kids (I have a 13 and 7 year old) nearly does my head in. And my husband LOVES listening to music. My favourite noise is “silence” and if it’s music – Kenny G or Hillsong. I then feel relaxed and soothed.

December 16, 2010 at 8:58 am
(34) Scilla says:


I have thanked you once and I will thank you again. I love to read about your experience. I can’t believe the timing of this because I was having this conversation with the neuropsychologist I am seeing. I was just telling her -yesterday- that loud noises affect me pretty bad no matter what they are. Sometimes, when a noise is too sharp (like the sound of glass breaking or plates hitting against each other when I take them out of the dishwasher), I cry because it hurts my ears. Also, I have major problems concentrating at parties when too many people talk at once and there is too much background noise around me. It seems I am hearing things even louder than they actually are. The neuropsychologist was telling me that MS could not do that. Well what do you know…

December 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm
(35) ART says:

Ear plugs are a good friend

December 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm
(36) Kathy says:

My husband was diagnosed with MS in 2008 (RRMS). One thing I’ve noticed with him is that he is very sensitive to unexpected noises (i.e. dropping something on the floor) and this happens even if he is the one that does it. Does anyone else experience this? I try hard to control my actions but things do get dropped or fall and there isn’t much one can do to totally stop that from happening. I have been equally surprised that he reacts even if he is the one that drops something.

December 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm
(37) SherriD says:

I am a quiet person and the less i feel well, the quieter I speak. I work in a very loud store qadn have a headache most of the time. At home, complete silence is a blessing. I think I have always been sensitive to loud noises.

December 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm
(38) Sheri says:

I recently found out by reading sites like this one that I was not crazy. I just have yet another MS symptom, noise intolerance. My husband and kids can no longer enjoy the radio while I am in the car. The kids learned to use their ipods, and my husband just deals with it. If I am driving, I can barely answer questions without getting angry. I have a hard time conversing if I am the passenger. I am not a mean, angry, anxious person but noise and conflicting noises (conversations, radio, dog, paper rattling, etc) just turn me into a raving lunatic. After the lunatic leaves then I end up in tears. Sad I know. Knowing that this is a symptom of MS and not a mental disorder makes me feel better though. Hope there is a treatment in the near future. Sure do miss ZZ Top!

December 31, 2010 at 5:00 am
(39) Steve says:

I too find loud, constant noise very stressful. I cannot tolerate modern cinema due to the incredible volumes they use these days. I can watch the same movie at home on a DVD with my headphones, no problem(at a reasonable volume). I also noticed that recently I become irritated by people talking for extended periods of time without a break. This is even at low volumes. I often have to leave the room for a few minutes because otherwise I develop a mild to moderate headache. I have started to avoid chatty people because of this. I cannot tolerate people who talk for an hour without pausing. This may be just part of my character, I dont know.

I feel better knowing I’m not a grumpy person and that this is normal, at least for some people out there.

January 6, 2011 at 9:53 am
(40) Ian L Jamieson says:

As far as I know, I do not have MS, but I do suffer from Polyneuropathy, many of the symptoms being similar to MS.

I too, suffer terribly when a sharp noise presents itself. Plates being knocked together, water running in the sink, any hard item being set on an uncovered table, are just some of the things that distress me.

I am 67, slightly deaf, and have tinnitus, and am now finding it hard to cope in certain situations. My church is about the size of a tennis court but the minister has installed NINE microphones and half a dozen speakers for a ‘praise band’ to perform. Led by a clavinova, it is absolute hell for me, and I have to make sure that I am not there when the band is performing. Churches should be havens of peace, shouldn’t they?

I am a musician, and enjoy classical music – which I can only play really softly, either when I play the piano, or listening to CDs or radio. It is a great problem, and all you previous contributors are certainly not alone.

January 11, 2011 at 9:44 am
(41) grace says:

blessings to all…
i dont have ms, although what does ale me makes me very sensitive to sounds…i had to smile you commented about perhaps needing to leave the movie theater if the whole movie would be as loud at the into…last time i went to the movie was with my adult son…the movie was so loud,it pained me, and i didn’t want to leave for i hardly ever see my son… so asked him if i could have two of his cigarettes(yes he questioned,for i dont smoke) i went to the ladies room broke them apart and stuck the soft filters in my ears…i enjoyed the rest of the movie with my son:)

January 13, 2011 at 11:13 am
(42) Eve says:

Wow I’m not crazy. My “old ” neurologist told me my MS doesn’t affect my hearing. I new he was wrong and move on to an MS clinic doctor. I am also sensitive to different pitch sound. High – goes like a knife through my brain, low- I can’t hear well (my husbands voice ). I also noticed that too much noise makes me nervous. I try not to stay long in noisy places because I will get sick. This has been a great help too me MS makes me feel so alone sometimes.

June 23, 2011 at 12:00 am
(43) JJ says:

I came upon this article looking up noise intolerance with MS. The worse for me is summer. I have window air conditioners (which I need), but the noise from them drives me nearly mad! I can’t watch TV too, because I can’t stand it being loud enough to hear over them. As I look back, this was probably my first MS symptom. People didn’t really mind when I didn’t want to go have fun, I would become so irritable they couldn’t stand me!

March 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm
(44) John Emoie says:

3-5-12 NOISE vs MS
2 years ago we & friends drove 130 miles to a stage show: orchestra & 16 singers. VERY LOUD for 3 hours. After 2 hours I left & sat & waited.My brain was “mush”. Telling my wife about the noise volume, was not acceptable. A year later, the same trip was planned. I refused to go. An excuse of loud music was not too good to wife & friends. I am now the crazy,nutty guy.
A week ago we went to a stage show in our town: orchestra and large cast of singers. It lasted 2 1/2 hours. It was like being hit in the head with a hammer; unbelievable feeling. I could hardly recognize friends, nor walk without help. Now I am speechless with my wife; I don’t have a clue as to why? I go to a web site and find notes from 15 people with the same problem; an incredible relief. I am exonerated! I can not thank you all enough for what I have learned about this problem. John E.
what I have learned about this problem. John E.

August 2, 2012 at 12:58 am
(45) Nicole O says:

diagnosed 18+years
Always loved music. Find solace in it. Don’t like too many things at once though, like tv and music. But the music alone can be quite loud.

Recently, however, I find myself asking to have the tv turned up! I am hearing-sensitive, then I am deaf?! *sigh* And such is the cruel irony of MS.

September 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm
(46) Kim says:

I have never been diagnosed with anything other than a cold in my life but when I turned to the internet to find out what the reason is for my intolerance to noise is and everything I see says symptom of ms. I feel like I’m going crazy! It started several years ago when I was in my late 20′s. Loud TVs, stereos, dogs barking, lots of people talking at the same time, it all makes me feel crazy… I get frustrated and try to find quietness but if I can’t I will sometimes get angry. Its like I physically can’t handle loud or lots of noise..am I going crazy or could this honestly be a symptom of something more? Help??

November 9, 2012 at 9:27 am
(47) Gently Jack says:

I find people to talk too loud all of the time! I do not know what ms is unluess you talk of the annoying Microsoft! But still, I have hearing loss, so I can tell people put the tv at volume 5 at night, well I cannot hear that at all, but then I go to a party as example, I find the noise to be way too loud, so I’m wondering how those normal human are even able to process that sound! Anyway last time I went to a consert, I talked to someone with no disability, but she could not hear me when I talked to her, while I could hear her when she talked! So I don’t understand human much anymore even though I am a human! People make no sences! Anyway when I talk, I never talk quietly, but I always talk loudly! Because my voice has adapted to talk over a crowd, but still people don’t hear me!

Sorry I’m to young to have my name on the Internet right now, so I use my gamer name!

November 14, 2012 at 11:29 am
(48) Beth says:

I can be totally fine at a Rolling Stones concert, but then the sound of children screaming drives me up a wall. But I guess that wouldn’t be considered abnormal. :)

November 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm
(49) Leslieann says:

I’ve always hated being in crowds – if at an event – need to be the last seat so I can get up and walk around/away.

I do find that music blockes out all other noise and I can concentrate better. I prefer my ITunes play list – I know what song is coming next so I don’t focus much on the song, but my work.

Did I mention I don’t like being around groups of people, even if I know them. I am not good with small talk at all – as I have problems gettting words out.

Glad I can blame all this on MS…thought it was just be being intolerant of things and people! Thanks for the smile today!!!

November 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm
(50) Terri says:

I have this noise problem, when kids scream and cry loud Very Loud. hen parents start yelling etc. I gett real upset. Some of my friends don’t understand how it affects me.

November 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm
(51) moe says:

My husband watches NASCAR, so u can only imagine what my house sounds like. I too dislike loud noise. I’m always turning down the TV. I dislike light also.

November 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm
(52) Bonnie says:

This has been an eye opener. I thought I was having hearing problems. If there is too much background nose, I cannot hear the person in front of me talking. Now I understand it is my MS and how my brain is working and not my hearing. I hate loud noises. I cannot stand to watch Judge Judy for that reason. She is so loud. Thanks for sharing everone.

November 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm
(53) HemRaj Vashist says:

I often get stiffness in my body in loud sound and in DJ parties. Headache and walking imbalance increased. in my college where i am working as ass. Professor student ask me to come on stage in function. I always feel it difficult to go from my seat upto satage.

November 15, 2012 at 1:01 am
(54) murphy says:

Can’t stand TV shows or movies with loud singing and / or background music or other background soundtrack noises. I totally lose the converstaion going on in the movie or show and therefore the point of the show I was trying to watch.
Also most commercials on TV I have to mute due to their loud noises and music screaming for my attention therefore losing me from the add, the opposite effect then what the advertisers were going for.

November 15, 2012 at 1:07 am
(55) murphy says:

I can’t stand loud busy restaurant conversations. Why can’t people just talk and stop trying to out ‘sound’ the sound system in restaurants? Also ‘cell yellers’ set my teeth on edge. Use your phone on your own time and in your own space, not in public places, please.
Most loud or intrusive noises drive me to the brink.
So, am I sound intolerant? Yes, very!

November 15, 2012 at 4:23 am
(56) Raziya Mohamedali says:

The MS has affected my hearing and it’s a very strange type of hearing loss (getting worse since 1992 – 2 years before my diagnosis).

I’m profoundly deaf in one ear and just one tone better in the other.

Of course, any type of sound/noise especially in the background interferes with my hearing and if the person is not facing me. Also, doesn’t matter how loudly somebody speaks it does not help with making out consonant sounds. I can’t make out the difference between these.

So, phone conversations are truly frustrating especially when people don’t speak clearly into the phone and/or mumble:(

Using a hearing aid doesn’t help much as it gives me a headache. I’ve found that the world is VERY NOISY!!!!

November 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm
(57) Linda says:

Earplugs are great for loud sound or a feeling of too much noise pollution. I use ” Mac’s” silicone earplugs. They’re moldable to your outer ear canal, and can be fit snugly or more loosely, depending on the amount of sound you want to let in. I use them for loud concerts and movies, and when the noise around me is distracting or annoying.

November 17, 2012 at 3:31 pm
(58) Sara Foley-Anderson says:

I was diagnosed in Nov. 2007. Within a few years I did notice a difference in my hearing but couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. But soon I noticed that whatever the circumstance, whether I was having a conversation with someone, if the tv was on, if water was running, or if a fan was on, or if others in the room were in a separate conversation, I was unable to focus on my conversation and everything else sounded equally loud to me. Very disconcerting!

November 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm
(59) Kerry Strange says:

How interesting to read of other peoples difficulties in hearing and tolerating different noises. I was only diagnosed with PP MS about six months ago but have experienced lots of what is described above. The cello music is interesting as I played the cello for many years and often wondered if the overstimulation of the body’s nerves was part of the cause? Only last week I had a full hearing test and my ears were found to be perfectly normal. I asked the therapist about any relationship with MS and after accessing the internet she decided that there is no connection whatsoever. I think fellow friends with MS have proved this wrong.?

November 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm
(60) Pam says:

Music was more loud than usual one day. I became nervous, irritable, grouchy. With the volume decreased I began to relax and then realized this would happen if the radio, television, conversation etc. were loud. Never before was I bothered by noise but now have another symptom to contend with!

November 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm
(61) Jessica W says:

I find that I am quite noise intolerant as well, but within certain parameters. In a room full of people talking, I quickly cease to be functional to any real level, but if I’m in a place where I can be left alone from all other noise, I can put my ear buds in and listen to music quite loudly as long as that is the only drain on my senses. When I do that, it’s actually helpful to have loud music because it chases all the background noise that I get from cars or buses driving past or people loudly talking or laughing in the hallway past my apartment. It’s nice to have only one strain on my attention, and actually quite relaxing. However it’s only to a certain degree, and only at some times. A few months ago my apartment building was testing the fire alarms, and since I live in a handicapped apartment, they have a blinding flash and a brain shattering volume. When it went off while I was still asleep, I pretty much went in to an almost catatonic state with my hands over my ears and my eyes buried into my knees basically whimpering with over-stimulation of sound and sight.

So long story short, yes, I’m also quite sensitive to sound, and background noise or anything over a certain volume can cause me to shut down. Also, for about 14 years (starting around the time that some of the other precursor effects of the MS), I would have an almost painful reaction to bells of any sort. I never thought of it as being anything related to the MS, but from what it sounds like, other have experienced other similar effects.

November 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm
(62) Anne Brown says:

Just hid in bedroom for an hour from 3yr old who was literally driving me nuts with her constant chatter chatter flaming chatter!!!!!!!!
Tellys fine, it’s the unexpected twittering of others that causes me a problem. When my two daughters are together and their voices get louder and more animated as they chat, I could scream.
As they’re now 33 and 37 I can’t send them to their rooms but sometimes I do have to tell them that it’s time the took their daughters home.
I’m not too bad if I’m mentally prepared for noise but fall to pieces with unexpected guests who twitter on inanely, when their voices sound to me like scratching your nails down a blackboard.
Give me a horse or a dog any day, can even cope when my wee Fraggle howls like a wolf. Give me a three year old though and I’m hiding in the wardrobe with a blanket over my head

February 17, 2013 at 11:47 am
(63) Matt Allen G says:

Noise sensitivity makes me feel like I live in a prison that you can’t see. My startle reflex is so sensitive that simply setting a glass down makes me ump. Loud environments makes my chest hurt, I am 22, far to young for chest pain, but noise seems to send me into a minor case of tachycardia! I can’t talk to someone if the TV is on or other people are talking in the room, it’s like all the noise merges together and I can’t focus on one over the other. If I have my noise canceling headphones on I actually like it loud, in the car? Computer? Nope, it’s too much. With the headphones on it’s like I can finally breath! ESCAPE! I do listen to more mellow music though, no more metal, and I hate the violin! I like the cello but the violin makes me want to dig my ear drums out with a spoon! I am still trying to determine what to do but my neurologist says there is nothing medical that can be done so I would say that so far, the best thing for me is prevention…

February 18, 2013 at 2:37 am
(64) Lisa says:

I remember being very young and crying at fireworks because it hurt my ears. Then I remember my dad making this repetitive clicking of his dentures, Im getting very anxious just talking abiut these things. At my job anyone cracking gum drove me crazy. There was this one lady who chewed ice all day long. Everyone thought I was crazy or just intolerant. Not true. It was so stressfull!!!! I cant even sleep in the same room with my bf. I even have to use a fan fir noise. If I hear a loud unexpected noise, I get this electric-like shock that runs through my nerves of my whole body. Im 48 and have had MS diagnosed now for 2 years.

February 21, 2013 at 11:00 am
(65) christopher says:

I am now 53yrs old and have been a musician actively playing for almot 35 years now I was diagnosed withh RRMS about 2 yrs ago. I was sent for several MRI’s because I was experiencing Trigeminal Neuralgia , then came the MS diagnosis. I play guitar in loud rock bands and have had several episodes of foot drag,dizziness then ultimately seizures.I was practicing loud last night and had another moment where I just lost my balance and fell forward on my face again whilst strapped into my guitar (thank God I didn’t break my guitar )This has happened while I’ve been rehearsing too,usually after an hour of playing , then we’ll take a break , then this loss of co-ordination happens and I’ll look for a landing spot , so to speak.NO I don’t drink and it seems that I’m reminded by these episodes to wear ear plugs when practicing.I’m currently on Copaxone daily and other medications for other ailments I have.I’m getting fed up with Copaxone but I continue to inject daily and wonder what other successes people have had with meds.

May 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm
(66) Melina says:

Wow this could be me. I am in the process of being diagnosed with MS and have been doing a lot of research about symptoms. So this morning I had a massive anxiety attack and got REALLY angry b/c the lawn people were next door with one of those leaf blowers. It literally felt like he was not just in my room but in my head and body. It hurt my bones and the sensory overload was almost too much to handle. Thankfully it didn’t last long b/c I don’t know if I would have been able to deal with it much longer. The more I research my symptoms the more I am convinced I have MS. I have an appt with a neurologist (finally) in a few weeks. This has been a long battle with countless doctors (who don’t listen) trying to figure out what is wrong with me. I’ve lost friends and even family b/c they think I’m just lazy or depressed. If I hear one more person tell me to just suck it up or go for a walk you’ll feel better I think i might explode. All I want is a diagnosis so I can move forward with treatment. I’m so thankful to know that I am not alone and if it is MS at least it is an answer. That’s all I’m really asking for. I can deal with whatever comes my way, it’s the not knowing what is happening to me that is driving me nuts. So now I can add noise sensitivity to the list of symptoms I have to discuss with my neurologist. Thanks for the great post

June 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm
(67) Crys says:

I have MS too and I noticed this awhile back. However, I really noticed it when I went to a co-worker’s son’s high school graduation dinner a couple of weeks ago. There were at least 10 people there, and we were in a restaurant. At times, I couldn’t even make out what people were even saying it was so loud in there.

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September 2, 2013 at 5:40 am
(69) Ana says:


December 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm
(70) Carolyn says:

I am 62 and was diagnosed with ms in my forties. Lately ( past 5 years) I have difficulty listening and talking to my friends that are hyper and loud talkers. It seems I can’t pull up a decent response to them. My words get lost. I was at a christmas party and there were many people there and they were all talking and very loud. I believe I became overwhelmed and I had to backoff for about 5 days. Up until summer of 2012..I was working full time as a registered nurse…but had to say goodbye to my 40 yr nursing career. I am trying Lumosity to improve my memory and cognitive ability.

December 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm
(71) gary says:

38yrs old-5 years with MS.

Just had a argument about closing the bathroom door with the fan going. Sometimes I don’t notice the background noise but then it comes to the foreground and that’s all I hear. Annoying. Very Annoying. I not crazy. 70 people on this page have similar issues. Printing it out to win my argument. Sometimes it’s the littlest things. Close the door. Thanks

April 25, 2014 at 10:36 am
(72) chrystal says:

i actually did not realize it was a problem until i decided to look it up..i dont really have a problem with loud music but its the type of music that ticks me off to a point where i even grind my teeth wanting it to stop..if theres 1 loud song at a time or 1 loud song at a time i dont mind but when its to many i tend to feel like a crazy person sometimes even try to hold myself from screaming my lungs out.i realized this the other day at home when my bf was playing music at the same time there was some one in the kitchen ,my son crying and someone shuffling a plastic bag,and i bit on my teeth until 1 chipped ,#scarey hey#.i cant stand sounds!!!!

April 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm
(73) JR says:

It’s not due to MS – volumes we are exposed to are too loud. The people who claim to tolerate them, or claim they don’t even notice, are the people with the problem.

May 14, 2014 at 9:35 am
(74) Kaley says:

Wow! I’m so glad I found this. All my friends tell me that I’m overly sensitive, and they get annoyed when I ask them to turn down music or the TV. They also can’t understand why I often take earplugs to movies or avoid crowded places. They think I’m a drama queen.

It’s so refreshing to know this is connected to MS!! Now I can tell them it’s part on my medical condition and not because I’m a diva.

May 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm
(75) Marilyn says:

I thought today I was going to die. I work in a very quiet, super quiet office. Today they decided to try a noise machine, white noise. It started out alright, then I noticed my hands shanking, tried to stay focused, ignoring it. My heart starting racing, more shaking. Its like it was going directly into my brain. I had to get up and get away from it. Wanted to get outside, now my legs are shaking my left hand is curled up and shaking like someone who has a stroke. Can’t make it to the door. Get stopped by another employee. I am in tears, I cannot stop the shaking, sensory overload. Horrible and so embarrassing. Have MS for 12 years, no one knew but now everyone does.. humiliated.

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