Monday, October 13, 2008 Julie, Community Member, asks

Q: Is a sensitivity to loud noises related to MS?

My legs go weak and I almost feel like I will collapse when a car honks its horn, and I just can't tolerate loud environments. I wasn't like this 10 years ago.

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Answers (15)
Merely Me, Health Guide
10/13/08 2:29pm

You know something Julie?  I am so glad you are talking about this because right now I am experiencing the same exact thing.  I do believe my MS symptoms are sound activiated.  I think with the MS...we have this hair trigger that sets off our delicate nervous system.


I was testing one of my smoke alarms which did not go off when my son burned microwave popcorn.  I got the alarm to sound and when it set off this chain reaction for me of having convulsions on my right side and then all of a sudden I was having my foot drop symptom.  I am convinced that loud sounds do, in fact, trigger MS least they do for me.  Flashing lights and repetetive patterns found on some video games also set me off.  I will do some more research on this because this sort of thing seems much akin to folk who have epilepsy and how certain environmental stimuli can invoke a seizure. 


Here is a message board where people talk about this phenomena of loud sounds activating MS symptoms. 


I will do some more investigating and will come back if I find any answers as to why this can happen.  Thank you for asking this question as I am most interested as well.

Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
10/14/08 1:39am

Julie, I have very little tolerance for loud noises, or even just certain quality of noises.  There are times which the very sound of the TV feels like an oppressive beast which is bearing down upon me.  For me, it the cognitive issues which surface in a loud environment. 


No fun - that's for sure.  In fact, I wrote something just yesterday which touches on this very issue.  I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in this symptom.  I simply HATE loud sounds now as they seem to turn my brain into brush.

Kathy, Community Member
10/16/08 11:15pm

Whow everytime I come in I hear new things that I thought I had if I hear loud noises like a dog bark or just plain anything it fells like how can I put it it fells like when someone runs there nails on a chalkboard it effects every never in my body and give me chills there is nights my husband sores to loud and I have to get up and sleep in the living room. Butch keeps saying I am crazy I will let him read this. cause I guess I am not crazy after all. Thanks

KAJ, Community Member
7/ 7/12 8:59pm
I have the exact "chalk on the blackboard feeling" for most sound especially for some reason the letter "s" and higher pitched musical instruments. I have not been diagnosed with MS yet. I am in the process of the testing. I know exactly what you are experiencing. I also have a constant tinnitus (high pitched ringing in my ears). This all began very suddenly about two months ago. Reply
Merely Me, Health Guide
12/ 2/08 3:02pm

Hey Julie


Just wanted to follow up to see how you were doing.  And also relay more of my experience with this. 


I had the experience over the past weekend of having a severe reaction to a loud sound (that of my son's friends running in place in his room while playing a wii game).  To anyone else this sound would not have bothered them in the least.  But for me it induced a feeling of panic and then I began having MS symptoms big time.  My whole right side began to convulse. 


Later I told my friend about this who has children who have epilepsy and to her it made total sense as the sound was repetitive.  This is the big mystery so far with my MS.  It seems that both visual and auditory stimuli can provoke neurological responses in me.  And the more repetititve the sound or visual...the worse it is. 


I am in between neurologists right now but as soon as I see one I am definitely going to be asking what is up with this.  I would like to know how to prevent these responses from happening if I could.


Hope you are doing well.  Let us know how you are doing.

Jan Robinson, Community Member
12/ 2/08 4:58pm

I too can not deal with sudden / loud noise, I almost jump out of my skin and it feels like it hurts. Jan

nataliemsadvocate, Community Member
7/29/10 10:27am

I have tried to explain to a few people that loud noises can actually HURT. It feels like someone is hitting me.


Sensitivity to noise is one of the most frustrating "invisible disabilities" of MS. I used to work at a TV studio. Now.... no way. - Natalie

Jan Robinson, Community Member
7/29/10 12:30pm

Natalie, Nobody ever understands about noise hurts, not even my Doctor!

Thank you for answering my message, Take Care, Love Jan

Glory2God, Community Member
12/16/08 8:58am

Depending on the location of leisons, hearing different noises can trigger an MS response. See following article:


More articles in pubmed.


My symptoms began with ear problems.  The neuro/ENT did not recognize it as MS. But the MRI leisons offered correlation.I have a super sensitive right ear. When I have a cold I am miserable afterwards b/c of my ear. I recently had a middle ear infection and I honestly just wanted to die. My right ear was completely plugged up and I felt a right side paralysis of my face (this correlates with middle ear infection). Sometimes it begins as a non-MS symptom but then it triggers an MS symptom. The neuro kept telling me to go the ENT the ENT kept saying it was a neuro thing. Very frustating. It seems when you have MS no other doctor wants to become involved and if you also have a hands-off neurologist, then where are you?


I drink a very tiny amount of valium (1/8 of 1mg pill), and the hearing "sensitivities" subside and I am not bothered by all the sounds around me. I don't have it everyday, thankful to God for that.


Hope this helps. I know must people do not want to know where their leisons are. I however am quite the opposite by personality.



owlguy223, Community Member
1/ 3/09 6:00am

I thought I was imagining this for the longest time. I didn't see how loud noises could be causing an issue.

Jeannette Elsner, Community Member
8/ 6/09 10:27am

I am highly semsitive to loud,sudden,sounds.Loud,vocal,sounds,are particularly unsettling for me.I feel best in an environment of a "soft"or quieter vocal quality and expression.

sadie, Community Member
1/17/09 11:10pm

oooh, I suspect I might have similar. I have never thought to mention it to my doctors and once when I mentioned it in passing to a friend and then saw the look on her face realised it was not in the realm of the 'norm'.

Mine occurs not necessarily with loud noises but more a certain pitch or vibration. The two triggers I particularly notice are - one due to a bedside lamp that 'pings' about five minutes after it has been turned off as it cools down and also the noise of the fridge(!). My skin crawls like the vibrations of the noise 'ping' all down my body and something akin to when you get a shock say from someone unexpectedly coming up behind you, but much more severe.


Medically, I had been told that ms-ers have hyper reflexes - y'know when the dr uses that little hammer thing to test your reflexes - so am thinking it is part of the same thing??

BD, Community Member
11/18/12 2:30pm
Wow, I just can't believe it and am so relieved to read about all these similar experiences. I was at arovk concert last week which was very loud and had no problem with this at all. The problem started with the high pitched wolf whistles of apprciation. I have never experienced this before, but when the audience whistled at this high pitch, I felt I was falling over. Thankfully the whistles did't last very long, but every time they recurred,ithad th same effect. I suffer from MS , epilepsy and migraine. Reply
Maris B. Mohr, Community Member
1/27/09 5:41am

I've just read all the answers to this question and must agree with everyone.


I was dx with MS and FMS on the same day. I know that in fibro many people have a super sensitivity to noise. Over the years that we have been living in a small town in the Negev Desert both our population and the noise pollution that we have have grown.


Examples: 1) A small discoteque about 40 meters from our house and directly facing us was opened about 15 years ago. They were open on Tuesday and Friday nights and blasted techno-music, house, dance with the base turned way up. It made every nerve in my body jump and vibrate. It annoyed my husband, but not physically.


2) People around here like to blast horrible, banging music out of their cars while driving around town at night. It wakes me up and causes the same reaction as above. I actually react with stress, tension and near hysteria. Once it happens I can't get back to sleep.


I also can't stand certain tv shows and movies that have a lot of noise even if it's just promos with annoying music. I end up putting my tv on mute until they finish.


I've been suffering from this for at least 25 years, way before my dx Frown. I've tried listening to meditation CDs, ear plugs, going downstairs where it doesn't seem as loud, but nothing has helped.


I'm so glad this question was asked. I used to think I was just over-sensitive and weird.


Feel good.


Peace & Serenity,


beau31958, Community Member
1/27/09 5:37pm

Oh good, it is just not me......I thought maybe I was imagining all of this. It does not happen all the time, but then there are the times when noise just makes my head feel all foggy and things.  Just the past weekend, I had my daughters over, with their husbands and one grandchild, etc...and everyone was talking, and trying to talk over each other while chatting after dinner...I find that I started to have a hard time keeping up with all the chatter, I found that I was becoming impatient, and that my head just began to feel funny. So I excused myself and went into the family room and chilled, and began to feel much better.

Ha! Maybe its just the kids!!!!!  But I even notice sometimes the clatter of dishes being put away can send me around the hedge as well...and sharp or loud noises will do it.


Oh great, I'm going out for dinner tonight, and one of the gals that we are going with has a real shrill to her voice, and she becomes quite loud - oh oh!!!!


Paula, Community Member
4/ 1/09 5:01pm

Oh thank you all!  I'm not crazy!  I thought I was going to kill someone at work today.  I'm trying to concentrate and all I hear is one lady cracking her gum, a guy banging on the keys of his keyboard or whistling randomly.  I pick up on every noise around me and it is driving me nuts!  I tried headphones, but even that drives me crazy and I can still hear things around me!

just2tired, Community Member
5/21/09 6:17pm

Absolutely, I firmly believe that MS has made me noise unfriendly!  I cannot even go to the movies anymore without paying a severe price in increased pain and fatigue.  And when I do go (for my husband usually) I have to wear earplugs!  And God forbid that the theater has the heat turned on!



nataliemsadvocate, Community Member
7/28/10 8:23pm

Noise sensitivity has been a most difficult aspect of living with my MS. I have had MS since 1984 at age 19 for sure, but the noise sensitivity did not rear it's highly annoying, often embarrasing head until after 2003.


I jump at certain noises and people will tell me to "relax, chill, calm down," etc. As an example, when someone stirs in sweetener in their iced tea, stirring, stirring, stirring, the sounds shuts down my brain and I feel like I am being physically pummeled. It hurts.


It is nearly impossible to concentrate when too much noise or activity is going on around me. I use ear plugs in public places, which help, but when I am talking and someone interrupts me, again my brain will shut down. I forget what I was saying. It is a struggle to be sure.


As other have said, reading that I am not the only one really helps. I plan to share this link with my famiy. Thanks.

Rick, Community Member
8/ 5/11 12:07pm

noises like someone doing dishes or putting them away .......ahhhhhhhhhh i cant handle, have to leave or ask them to please stop.

elaine, Community Member
9/26/11 7:30am

Wow. I have just read some of the comments about loud noises that affect M.S. sufferers. How true they all appear. I also suffer from loud noise exposure, mainly at work. I have even been sent to an occupational therapist who stated M.S. is not affected by noise. How does she know if research is not carried out and if she does nor suffer with M.S.

Loud aggressive music is one of the sounds that can cause my symptons to start along with very loud repetitive noise. People fail to take this seriously, and are only able to understand an illness they can see.

Thank you to all of you that have reported that noise is a sympton of M.S.

Elaine. Cheltenham




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By Julie, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/08/14, First Published: 10/13/08