Q. Are You Noise Intolerant?

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.

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