Kelly Ripa Diagnoses Herself With Mysterious Neurological Disorder

Do certain sounds drive you crazy?

Does the sound of your husband’s chewing make you want to punch him in the face?

Yesterday, there was a story on the Today show about a woman with misophonia, a condition where certain sounds can literally drive a person crazy.

And I’m thinking, this is really interesting, too bad there’s no celebrity angle…

And then, this morning, my prayers were answered! Kelly Ripa opens today’s episode of Live! with Regis and Kelly by telling guest co-host Seth Meyers that she believes that she has misophonia! Ever since she was a child, the sound of chewing drives her nuts.

Her children have been trained to eat quietly with their mouths closed, and she “has to leave the house” if her husband, All My Children actor Mark Consuelos, eats a “juicy peach”.

Hatred of Sound

Misophonia literally means “hatred of sound” and is a form of decreased sound tolerance. The term was coined by American neuroscientists Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff in 1991. For those with misophonia, everyday sounds can lead to extreme reactions.

Misophonia is not a problem with the hearing pathways in the brain. Instead, there is an abnormally strong reaction of the limbic (emotional system) and autonomic nervous system (body control system) which are closely connected with the auditory (hearing) system. Hearing the hated sound activates a “Fight or Flight” response — either you become angry and potentially violent or you get anxious and run away.

According to support organization Misophonia UK :

  • the age of onset will often be around 10-12
  • the “trigger” sounds which tend to be most difficult are connected with eating and breathing
  • the reaction starts with the sound (or some aspect of the sound) and often develops to include actions associated with the sound and even anticipation of those actions
  • the closer the sufferer is emotionally to the “trigger” person, the more offensive the sound tends to be
  • the reaction is experienced most commonly as extreme rage
  • the trigger sound can create an overwhelming fight or flight response in the sufferer, so they experience a desire to do extreme violence to the maker of the sound, or to escape the vicinity of the sound at all costs.

The Sounds of Silence

There is no cure for misophonia, but some treatments have shown promise for some sufferers:

  • Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is a form of habituation (tolerance) therapy designed to help people who suffer from tinnitus (ringing ears). Relies on a patient getting used to a low level of the disturbing sound.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teaches people to change negative thinking and behaving that contributes to their illness.
  • Psychotherapeutic hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to deal with triggers and the response to them.
  • Antianxiety medications

Here is a video of the story on Today:

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Is there a particular noise or sound that drives you crazy?

Please share your experiences with us.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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