Migraine and Sound Sensitivity (Phonophobia)

Did you know that at least 35% of Migraine Buddy users have recorded sound sensitivity as one of their migraine symptoms? When you experience sound sensitivity even the mere sound of a falling leaf could sound like a bomb explosion! ?


Above are some of the sounds which the Migraine Buddy community has shared that annoys us the most during a migraine! Indeed, some sounds in our daily lives can become extremely unbearable to hear thanks to our heightened senses during an attack.

With migraine attacks, there is usually higher sensitivity to sensory stimuli which means that at least one of the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and/or smell becomes more sensitive! Hearing and sight are most commonly affected in migraine attacks.

What Is Phonophobia (Sound Sensitivity)?


Phonophobia, or sound sensitivity, is one of the most common symptoms experienced by the migraine community. Phonophobia is simply anomalous discomfort from sound.

Consider it this way: everyone is usually uncomfortable with loud sounds. This is completely normal! But with phonophobia, the tolerance for sounds is significantly reduced. In other words, the discomfort levels associated with sounds are reached quicker.

This means that sounds that generally may not discomfort people without phonophobia will be very discomforting for people with phonophobia. Some examples include the ones mentioned above like the sound of utensils clanking together, chewing noises, a clock ticking, etc.


It is important to note that some individuals may have low thresholds for sound by nature. These people may seem to be ‘better hearers.’ This is not usually the case with people experiencing migraine attacks, as migraine warriors simply have a higher discomfort to loud noises than people without migraine attacks due to the sensitive migraine brain.

This sensitivity to sound is typically noticed during a migraine headache and sometimes during the prodrome phase. Loud noises intensify the pain of the headaches, and the pain usually persists even when the noise is stopped. Loud noises are not only involved in worsening a migraine attack, but they are a common migraine trigger for some people when an unusually loud noise emanates from the environment.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are important in advancing migraine medication research. If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, various resources can help you find relevant studies. These include clinical trial registries, research institutions, patient advocacy groups, and healthcare providers. Additionally, many trials offer compensation for participation, making it a mutually beneficial endeavor. You can find 175 studies (as of 13 June 2023) currently recruiting on this page. If you live in the USA and are using Qulipta and Ubrelvy, you may be interested in a study called COURAGE 2 that Migraine Buddy is conducting for AbbVie, answer a few questions to find out.
dark room.jpg

Increased sensitivity to light also usually accompanies sensitivity to noise. The culmination of these sensitivities may cause a situation whereby the person experiencing the migraine attack has to withdraw into a dark and quiet environment.

In an attempt to reduce the discomfort associated with sound sensitivity, many migraine warriors often end up withdrawing into tranquil environments due to the notion that staying in a region with no noise will combat it. This may not always work for everyone – being in an extremely quiet environment can end up intensifying the headache pain since even the slightest sounds can cause significant discomfort.

Dealing With Migraine Sound Sensitivity

For starters, trying to find the right balance in terms of noise levels will be helpful for those who struggle with migraine sound sensitivity. As everyone’s threshold is different, it does take some trial and error before finding the perfect balance. While this may be challenging in one’s workplace, it’s crucial to communicate your challenges to your colleagues or managers.

What are some sounds that you are sensitive to during a migraine attack? Do you have tips on how to overcome sound sensitivity? Share your thoughts with the community in the chat group below! ⬇️

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

You Will Also Like

Back to Blog

Leave your mobile to get a link to download the app