Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fibro and noise -- It's more than just an annoyance

I have a love/hate relationship with summer. Actually, I think I prefer winter. There. I said it. I know my views on this are not popular. And let me specify -- I do not like winter sports, so it's not about the skiing. I don't even like being cold. But I hate being hot. Hate it.

While I love the flowers, the songbirds, and being able to be outside to read and write and drink my coffee, there are two things I simply do not like about summer. I've already mentioned the first one -- the heat. The second one is the noise. Good lord, summer is noisy!

Not only do I prefer quiet, my body craves it. An excess amount of noise actually makes me sick. Even the laughter of my grandchildren, if it gets too loud and goes on for too long, will start causing me pain. Really. There is plenty of research to back this up, but it took years of suffering for me to discover it. I already knew my sensitivity to chemicals could trigger a flare up. But, until recently, I never realized the effect noise had on my condition. 

Summer noise -- multiple lawnmowers going at once, loud music, children playing in their yards, dogs barking (that one is the worst). I wish I could put into words what those things do to me. Thank God for air conditioning. At least I have the option of closing the doors and windows and shutting out some of the sounds.

According to Sarah Borien in her article, Fibromyalgia and Noise Sensitivity, "Noise has a big impact on a lot of fibromyalgia patients. We experience heightened sensitivity to touch, light, smells, temperature and noise. Noise can increase our pain, cause headaches and leave us feeling exhausted."

She continues, "There are some noises that will be painful to your ears, whether you have fibromyalgia or not. That ambulance siren, the pneumatic drill in the pavement, the screaming baby in the waiting room -- anyone who can hear is likely to flinch at these sounds. But fibromyalgia patients are likely to do more than flinch.

Not only is the sound likely to cause us physical pain, but they take their toll on our mental state as well. Our bodies tense at these sharp sounds and we struggle to remain calm or relaxed around heightened noise.

We're also exhausted; fibro fatigue means we're less able to remain strong and deal with these noises rationally. We don't have the physical strength or the mental strength to ignore the sounds like our non-fibro friends might."

Thank you, Sarah, for explaining what my body has known for years. It's not all in my head. There actually is a physiological thing happening here. 

So when I retreat from the noise, or I tense at the barking of a neighbor's dog, or I ask my husband (most likely in a not-so-nice way) to turn down the music, there is a reason... a pretty darned good reason. 

Back to my original point: I have a love/hate relationship with summer. And I've finally come to terms with why I love winter -- it's all about the quiet.

Today, I'm honoring my body by having the windows closed tight and the AC running. No, it's not the most eco-friendly thing I can do. But sometimes, I simply have to pay attention to my body's needs. Right now, it needs an extra dose of silence.


  1. Very interesting Hana, I can identify with some of the things you said here. It is painful when the home phone rings behind me sitting here at the computer. I never realized the connection with fibro.

    1. I wish I'd known about this earlier. Doctors don't bother telling you. Maybe if I'd understood the connection, I wouldn't have had 3 dogs at the same time!


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