This story also made to the Courier Mail (see link at bottom of page).
Hearing people chew can send Marina Sergeant into uncontrollable rage. For over eight years, it has made her life unbearable and she thought it was all in her head.
“I have to eat in my bedroom. I cannot eat around other people. I cannot go out for dinner to a restaurant. I cannot eat at food courts – it is like hearing people eating at full volume,” she said.
Marina suffers from a sound sensitivity condition called misophonia, which was only discovered in the 90s.
Audiologist Nolene Nielson has been treating Marina with a new technology created by herself and Regina Rowlison that has seen a dramatic improvement in her condition.
However, when Marina approached Nolene for help, she did not really hold out much hope.
“I thought I would be stuck with this condition for the rest of my life. I thought there was something wrong with me,” Marina said.
Nolene said people like Marina find certain sounds like snoring, chewing or sniffing can send them into a strong rage or disgust over sounds others find ok.
“Even though these sounds are barely audible. It is a severe disability that is not generally recognised.
“I see at least two to three people a week with this condition. It is not a phobia, it is not OCD, it is a real condition.”
Marina said the misophonia started with a sensitivity to hearing people chew. “It grew to be other sounds, tiny sounds no one else could hear,” she said.
“The sounds would make me yell and rage at people. It would come out of nowhere and be uncontrollable. I would feel like such an idiot.”
Until now, there has been no treated for misophonia, a hearing sensitivity condition that elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities.
With new research and findings into brain plasticity, Nolene approach Regina who has developed a world first which treats a range of hearing problems including tinnitus, hearing impairment and misophonia.
Nolene created Accepting Sounds, a customisable cutting edge technology, which works on reorganising the brain.
“Based on scientific research, I developed a customised version that specifically retrains the brain assisting it to overcome sounds sensitivity,” Regina said.
“So often many conditions are deemed irreversible because of our limited understanding of how the brain works. Recent studies show the brain can be rewired.”
Marina said she really did not expect the treatment to work. “But I have seen a dramatic change in my condition. I have gone from a sound sensitivity of 9/10 to 5/10 in a short space of time,” she said.
“Going to someone who knows what it is and can explain how to help has changed my life.”
The treatment requires people to watch a video once a day to treat specific conditions.
Marina said she watched the video twice a day for two weeks to speed up the process. “When I first went to Nolene, my condition was intense. Now my sensitivity has halved,” she said.
This breakthrough technology uses a visualisation technique by Dr Carl Simonton.
The patients watch the video over a 90-day period. The Accepting Sounds technology reduces anxiety and fear that evolves when someone is unwell or battling health conditions.
Regina said the Accepting Sounds technology reduces the pressure of the fear function of the brain called the Amygdala.
“Far too often we look for a medical fix, a pill to make things better. Medicine is often just about managing the symptoms of an illness. It does not look to treat the cause. While there is no instant fix for such hearing issues, this new innovative technology, however, is extremely powerful and effective because it trains the brain on a conscious and subconscious level,” she said.
According to Nolene, there is so much involved in living with the many different sounds in our lives.
“Audiologists talk about how we hear with our brain. Our ears are where we take convert the sounds of life to neural activity that is sent to the brain where it is processed. It is here that we attach meaning to the different sounds we hear around us,” she said.
“The brain even reorganises itself if you are experiencing a strong emotion at the time you hear a sound. The result is sometimes we find we develop a mild or even strong reaction to certain sounds.
“It is because of the neuroplasticity of our brain that we are able to create cutting-edge technology such as this to allow you to create a new experience of a situation or sounds you find aversive or uncomfortable.”
Regina said what you absorb repetitiously, your brain accepts and imprints on your subconscious mind. “Through this non-invasive and safe technology, Nolene and I are seeing incredible results,” she said.
Read the article on the Courier Mail’s Website
Got questions about your own hearing? Contact Nolene!