At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Phonophobia, or ligyrophobia, is the fear of loud sounds or even one's own voice. Like many types of phobias, this condition is usually accompanied by anxiety, fast heartbeat, nausea, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, and dry mouth. In general, it is characterized by a feeling of terror or panic regarding loud noises, often resulting in avoidance of such sounds when possible. Unfortunately, some severe cases include fear of one's own voice, the voices of other people, or other sounds that are usually unavoidable in life. Therefore, phonophobia often prevents the afflicted from having a normal life unless treatment is sought.
One of the most common causes of phonophobia is a traumatic event, which is known for creating a feeling of anxiety when it comes to loud sounds. In fact, negative events experienced at a young age are often responsible for the development of various phobias, not just this one. Of course, some people with this condition are genetically predisposed to it, as it may run in the family, so it is not always necessary to have experienced a traumatic event to suffer from phonophobia. In some cases, the cause of this condition is a mixture of brain chemistry, genetics, and past events that come together to create this and other phobias.
It is considered normal to be startled by sudden loud sounds, or even dislike them altogether, but it is not healthy to live in fear of most noises. The usual symptoms of this condition vary depending on the severity of the case, but most people with phonophobia experience feelings of anxiety thinking about the possibility of loud sounds. This is usually accompanied by physical symptoms like dry mouth, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and even the temporary inability to speak. Some people can deal with such symptoms when they are rare, as they may only occur with sudden loud sounds, but those afraid of voices or other more common noises often struggle more.
There are medications available to treat phobias, but they tend to only treat the symptoms, not the underlying fear. Additionally, anti-anxiety medications that may be prescribed often come with undesirable side effects. Therefore, many people prefer to try counseling that involves behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, exposure therapy, or hypnotherapy. Relaxation techniques can also be used to eliminate the anxiety that is often responsible for phonophobia. While it is normal to try out several of these treatments to find one that works, it is important to use a professional for each method.