Rare Condition Makes Sound of Other People’s Breathing Unbearable to Sufferer

A Scottish woman suffering from a rare condition called misophonia is so annoyed by the sound of other people’s breathing that she once asked doctors to surgically make her deaf.

Misophonia is described as a strong dislike or hatred of specific sounds, which triggers strong  emotional or physiological responses that would be considered unreasonable by most people. Also known as “sound sensitivity syndrome”, this condition can trigger all kinds of reactions, from anger to panic, or the need to flee and escape the maddening sound. Think of a sound that drives you crazy, multiply it by a factor of 100 and you can get an idea of what experiencing misophonia feels like.

Photo: @chairulfajar/Unsplash

While some people believe that misophonia is only caused by generally annoying sounds, like loud chewing or the scratching of fingernails on a blackboard, in reality, it can be triggered by virtually any sound. For example, a sufferer from Scotland recently appeared on British TV program This Morning to detail her experience with misophonia triggered by one of the most ubiquitous sounds, other people’s breathing.

“So it’s the noise of people breathing. When I hear it, the more angry I get. The louder I hear it, the angrier I get,” the woman, named Karen, said. “If someone is deliberately breathing to annoy me that doesn’t bother me. But if it’s somebody just breathing, that triggers me.”

Interestingly, it’s not heavy breathing or panting that bothers Karen, but the faint sound of normal breathing. She just wants the noise to stop, and that obviously can’t happen, because people need to breathe, so there’s nothing she can do about it.


At one point, things got so bad that the woman asked a doctor if there was any chance that she could get an operation to make her deaf, just so she wouldn’t have to deal with the annoying sound of breathing anymore. Obviously, no doctor would not carry out such a procedure.

Karen’s case and the exposure it got in the media got a lot of reactions from other misophonia sufferers who confirmed that living with the condition is a nightmare.

“It ruins my life on a daily basis and I’d give ANYTHING for a cure. Instead of being basically laughed at by doctors and told to ‘get over it’,” one person wrote on social media.


“Glad misophonia is being highlighted, the sound of people chewing, tapping keyboards etc. makes me wanna literally tear my hair out, it makes me SO enraged, it’s absolutely awful, I have to put my earphones in to block it out,” someone else commented.

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