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Researchers from King’s College London and University of Oxford have shown that 18.4 per cent of the general UK population report that certain sounds, such as loud chewing, and repetitive sniffing, cause a significant problem in their lives. The condition is known as misophonia.

Close up of an ear

Misophonia is a strong negative reaction to common sounds, which are usually made by other people, and include breathing, yawning, or chewing. People with misophonia often experience a fight-or-flight response to the sounds which can trigger anger and a need to escape.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE, this is the first study in the UK to assess the level of misophonia in a general population. The research was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and Wellcome.

The study used a new questionnaire developed to capture the severity and complexity of misophonia within a sample of 772 people who were representative of the UK general population across sex, age and ethnicity.

Only 13.6 per cent of people had heard about misophonia and 2.3 per cent identified as having the condition, suggesting that many are not aware there is a term to describe how they react to sounds.

The analysis showed that misophonia was equally common in men and women and that it tended to be less severe with age.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website