The Fear of Loud Noises or Ligyrophobia

Daughter ignoring yelling mother
Getty Images/JGI/Jamie Grill

Ligyrophobia, sometimes known as phonophobia, is the fear of loud noises. The fear is most common in young children but may occur in adults as well. Some people are afraid only of very sudden loud noises, while others fear ongoing noise. This can affect your ability to feel comfortable in social settings that involve being in a crowd such as parties, concerts and other events.

In Small Children

Common fears are a normal part of growing up, and many small children exhibit numerous short-lived fears. Loud noises, like any surprising stimuli, may trigger reactions even in very young infants. For most kids, however, these fears are mild and transient. However, children are just as capable as adults of developing deep-seated phobias that follow them throughout their childhood. Some phobias may be a result of genetics, while for others it may be a result of life experience. If a child's fear lasts longer than six months, or if the fear is not easily assuaged, it is important to seek treatment from a qualified mental health professional.

In Adults

In adults and older children, the fear of loud noises can be embarrassing at best and life-limiting at worst. This fear may not be talked about or revealed to friends, family, or doctors. Adults may find it difficult to function in noisy office environments, drive on busy highways, or even socialize in crowded restaurants or bars. Children may have difficulty paying attention in class, participating in team sports, or spending time with friends in noisy environments. Some people with this fear have a particularly difficult time falling asleep, as outside noises can be magnified when lying in a dark, quiet room.

Other Disorders

A decreased tolerance for noise is sometimes indicative of another condition. Hyperacusis and misophonia are physiological disorders that cause increased noise sensitivity. Although they may occur on their own, these disorders are sometimes linked to conditions from Asperger's Syndrome to Meniere's disease. For this reason, it is important to consult with your family physician.

A simple noise phobia is easy to treat, but if concurrent disorders are present, all conditions should be treated simultaneously. Your doctor may work in tandem with a mental health professional to properly treat your conditions.

Treatment

Treatment may vary depending on the severity of your fear and the level of social interaction you are able to successfully participate in on your own.

Treatment may include exposure therapy, which will place you in an environment that invokes your fear in a controlled way. Talk therapy may also be helpful, which is counseling with a mental health professional about the triggers, fears, and origins of your anxiety to help you become more rational about your fear of loud noises. There are numerous self-help techniques which may involve muscle relaxation, support groups, and hypnotherapy as well as meditation, positive self-talk and other ways of improving your reaction to loud noises.

Another practical way to alleviate your fear is to control the noise level in your immediate space as often as is comfortable. By informing others of your fear, you may be able to find a happy medium that may not affect others as much as it would you.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.