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Sensory Overload

Discussion in 'Neurological/Neuro-sensory' started by Dainty, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Does anyone else have problems with sensory overload? I did a search but found no matches.

    For me, sounds are the main problem. If I'm having a conversation and another noise happens, such as a beeper goes off, a car drives by, a plane flies overhead, or any other sound, then the conversation has to completely cease until the sounds stop and I can get my bearings again. If I'm in a group of people listening to one person talk and another person makes a comment further away from me, I thereafter lose the ability to focus on what's being said until everyone stops talking (and there isn't any other noises) and I once again get my bearings.

    Another aspect of it is that if I'm accosted with an unending loud noise it's like my brain stops working and I can't even come up with the idea of moving away from the noise. Being sensitive to noise (so that loud sounds are painful to me) doesn't help matters, but it wasn't until recently that I realized how much I completely freeze and shut down in those conditions...I instinctively cover my ears and beyond that, unless or until my caretaker resolves the situation, time stands still for meand I'm completely stuck.

    The same happens with rapidly flashing lights. I do have photosensitivity, but again the sensory overload seems different. For example, when riding in the car on a sunny day, the alternating sunlight and shadows cast by the roadside trees results in "flashing lights" within the car, and when that happens it's just like with the really loud noise....I instinctively cover my eyes (which only marginally helps), and beyond that depending on how bad the shadows are it can be mild enough that I simply cannot listen to or carry on a conversation until it's over or bad enough that everything just freezes and I can't think at all until it's over. Generally flashing lights are rarer than loud noise, so I don't encounter this problem as often.

    Anyone else experience these sorts of things? I was just thinking the other day of how dangerous this problem would be in the case of a fire alarm, where I'd freeze instead of moving out of there.
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  2. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

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    Hi Dainty,
    I have these problems and I think the majority of us PWCs do.

    We started talking about physical sensitivity on the thread called "clothes sensitivity" and from there expanded into sensitivities in general so you could look there for some more people's comments. In children this group of problems is called Sensory processing disorder so you could search the net using that term for info. There are some links in the thread I mentioned.

    The general consensus seems to be that this is connected to biochemical imbalances like having incorrect amounts of neurotransmitters etc. I notice my sensitivity to sounds, and a general inability to tune into one voice from a group of sounds, for example, gets much worse when I eat gluten which I do not digest properly and which gets through my leaky gut in the form of gluteomorphine, a partial molecule of gluten that closely resembles (and acts upon the brain like) heroin. This results from a lack of an enzyme called DPP-IV (there's a thread about that too) - a deficiency common to autistics and PWCs.
    That's just one example of many.
     
  3. ggingues

    ggingues $10 gift code at iHerb GAS343 of $40

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    Yeah, I can be the same way when very tired. Definetely should figure out what to do if a fire occurred!

    I more posting for you and you can access the Library! Yippie!!
     
  4. Anika

    Anika Senior Member

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    Hi Dainty,
    You really described well the effect on the brain in terms of it not functioning well when exposed to unrelenting sound.

    I usually am able to avoid or control noise to prevent or minimize these problems. But tonight, the impact came back to me - I made the mistake of watching the last 30 - 40 minutes of the U.S. soccer match, on replay, with my husband. The noisemakers they use at soccer games are really annoying and I usually don't watch things like that (at least not with sound), but it was only going to be for half an hour and I thought I could manage it ....

    Anyway, it was an exciting game up to the very end (USA!!) and I kept watching with the sound on. Then, when the game was over and we were going to have dinner, I had trouble thinking / moving etc. My husband could see I couldn't function - had to go lay down in dark and quiet until I recovered.

    And, on lights - I have noticed the bad effect of "flashing lights" (sort of like strobe lights) when in a car going through alternating shade and light (fortunately, I wasn't driving). I remember using two sets of sunglasses and it still wasn't tolerable, literally had to block all light. I've learned it's useful to keep a scarf handy for things like that.

    I'll have to take a look at the Clothes Sensitivity thread - I didn't realize that got into other sensory overload areas.

    Anika
     
  5. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    funny that you mentioned the fire alarm cause that is exactly what i was going to tell you about when i first started to read your post and hearing about your freezing, my worst horrific freezing incident was due to a smoke detector.

    When my CFIDS was worst...i had exactly the same issue and one day my fire alarm went off, (it was only due to me forgetting about having bread in grill), the loud noise of alarm sent me into overload and i froze and couldnt move. All i could do is stand there, covering my ears and trying to block the noise.. it shut down my brain completely and painfully and i couldnt even then figure out what the screaming noise was nor where it was coming from.

    I ended up on floor with the screaming noise and at that point almost going into seizures, it was like noise that was my whole world and nothing else except that and the pain of that existed. (After 5-10 mins or so i managed to get enough awareness again to crawl out of house, I'd gone the wrong way a few times as noise preventing me from even thinking enough to find my house door and brain shattered still had no idea on what noise was.. it was only once i was outside away from noise, was i able to think again and work out what had happened).

    Due to that I removed have the batteries out of the smoke detector and to this day have none in it. I know it's unsafe but it's useless for me to have it seeing it does that and has me unable to get out of the house fast if needed. If there had been a fire, I would of not been able to get away from it. My friends have suggested i get one in which would only very quietly go off (which probably is a good idea as i forget and burn everything).
    ...............

    flashing lights or the light and shade you speak about, gave me a completely different overload response that being almost seizures where I'd shake violently at times jerking.

    The other kind of sensitivity overload i used to get is to movements.. eg a car driving past.. I'd loose where i was in space and at that point fall down as I then had no balance... and i'd have to shut my eyes to block out overload from something moving.

    With noises.. I developed an issue (ive still got it at times) called Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) in which noises blurred all together as one (became like a roar) and I couldnt tell what noise is coming from where. I still when out with friends find i cant join in conversations at times due to this.... just all jumbled noise.
     
  6. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Athene,

    Thanks for pointing me to the clothes sensitivity thread. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I'm now researching Sensory Processing Disorder and the symptoms do seem to match to the T. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    That's fascinating about the gluten! Since I'm celiac I already go without gluten, but that's a good thing to know.

    WHat is the library, ayway? I've heard it mentioned, but I cannot seem to find a section fot he forum titled "library". Any help?

    Aboutthe fire, I currently live in a place that doesn't have one. I was thinking ahead to when I'm (hopefully) able to go into other buildings again someday. I suppose I have a little time to think up a solution. :D

    Thank you for sharing that. I do hope we find out someday...

    Anika,

    You mentioned something that I neglected to...the aftereffects. For me the acute problem is relieved a few moments after the flashing light or noise stops, but there are lingering effects in that I need to rest my brain to recover fully from it, and how long and how much I need to depends on how long or how intense the lights/noise was.

    I know exactly what you mean about the two pairs of sunglasses and the scarf....I, too, go out with two pairs of sunglasses, one on top of the other, and when in the car I keep a piece of fabric with me to cover my eyes. The problem is, in order to cover most effectively with the fabric I have to take the glasses off, which obviously is out of hte question when I'm in the midst of it. So I have to keep a sharp eye out for shadows up ahead so that I can get situated ahead of time before we drive into them. It seems ridiculous when I think of it as an unaffected person would, but it's what I have to do to get through the situation.

    Yikes! Your story gave me the shivers. I'm so sorry that happened to you and completely agree with your decision to take the batteries out...a quieter alerm would be ideal, but you're right, if it's going to make it practically impossible to leave the place in case of a fire then it's more dangerous to leave it in than to take it out.

    The seizures thing is interesting. I've often wondered if I was heading in that direction, since I've read that everyone has a "seizure threshold" and some are simply lower than others. I don't start shaking but if the flashing lights are especially bad then I'll be twisting and writhing uncontrollably. Thankfully I've never been exposed to more than a minute at a time at most, but I have to wonder what would happen if I was. It's not something I'm interested in finding out.

    I'm currently looking into Central Auditory Processing Disorder, and I think it is probable that I have it. Not only are my symptoms described to a T, but I also have the main risk factor mentioned for it....multiple severe ear infections along with the resulting partial hearing loss for the first several years of my life. One particular symptom that still freaks me ou tto this day is when I'll be talking with someone when all of a sudden it's as if they're speaking a different language and I cannot understand them at all. In the past few years I've assumed CAPD symptoms were all CFS symptoms, and who knows perhaps CAPD and SPD are in fact part of whatever CFS is. ANyway, I'm looking into it in my case. Did you find something that helped your CAPD?
     
  7. serenity

    serenity Senior Member

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    i have trouble with this for sure. loud noises, bright lights, people running around - big crowds. it's all too much for me. i've had problems with neighbors with barking dogs & a band practicing every night somewhere in the neighborhood. ugh.
     
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  8. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

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    Dainty,

    The gluten effect is also caused by dairy, and to a lesser extent by soya and egg. SO you could try cutting those out for a while. Apparently you need 2 whole weeks to fully clear your system.

    I also suddenly remembered that when my mother's sensory overload problems were truly terible, the doctor called it a "painless migraine". I am too brain fogged right now, but a little search on this term might throw up more info. I think in migraine the blood vessels in the brain constrict, so there may be some medical research on this out there??? Just an idea.
     
  9. Dainty

    Dainty Senior Member

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    Thank you for your suggestions. I don't think it's a diet thing for me....I haven't had anything containing soy for years, and was also completely dairy-free for several years up until recent months (whereas these problems have been happening for over four years). Eggs are a similar story.

    Interesting about the painless migraine thought.
     
  10. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    Yes.. for myself and I guess many others CAPD is a CFS/ME symptom .. the worst the ME at the time or the exhaustion, the worst i get CAPD. Unfortunately unlike most of my other ME symptoms, Ive found nothing at all which helps CAPD. Thou often there it can be prevented being made worst by trying to prevent CFS crashes/relapses eg the not over doing it thing.
     
  11. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

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    Description of painles migraine found here.
    http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Are-Painless-Migraine-Episodes?&id=426781

    The aura stage for me (I often get migraines, painful ones!) is like the Aura phase as described here, pluss all the usual symptoms of sensory overload. I think I spend more than 50 percent of my waking hours overall in the aura stage.

    "Most people think of a migraine as excruciating pain, but a migraine episode is far more than pain. Migraines typically have four stages: pre-headache, aura, headache, and post-headache. Millions of people globally suffer from these full-blown, 4-stage migraines - but a minority experience painless episodes. So what are painless migraine episodes?

    Technically, there is no such thing as a painless migraine. That is, if you go by the International Headache Society's (IHS) Guidelines for diagnosis and classification of headache disorders. Yet your physician may tell you that yours is a painless migraine. He or she may call it a painless, optical migraine.

    What are painless migraine episodes?

    The answer is in the question. A painless migraine is a migraine episode that begins with the typical pre-headache stage, progresses to the aura phase of a migraine attack, and then stops short. It skips the headache phase - the pain.

    If you have a painless migraine, you have the visual symptoms of the aura and other symptoms of a migraine without the headache. Such a migraine would usually be termed a migraine with aura. A physician following the IHS guidelines would describe it as "acephalgic" - meaning "without headache."

    Pre-headache - Phase #1

    The pre-headache phase is sometimes referred to as the prodrome. This is where your painless migraine episode begins. You may enter this stage hours or even days before what would normally be recognized as a migraine episode.

    Recognizing the prodrome can be very helpful to you, since it is a warning. It is telling you that migraine changes are beginning to take place. How do you know? You may have some or all of the following symptoms.

    * constipation

    * diarrhea

    * depression

    * fatigue

    * food cravings

    * frequent urination

    * irritability

    * neck muscle stiffness

    Aura - Phase #2

    As your painless migraine progresses, you enter phase #2 - the aura. This familiar phase lasts less than an hour in most cases, but can be terrifying. Some of the bizarre symptoms and effects of the aura are believed to have influenced Lewis Carroll as he wrote "Alice in Wonderland."

    Most people think of aura as being only visual: zigzag lines, spots in front of your eyes, or flashing lights. They believe the aura phase affects only the eyes. This may explain the physician's term, "painless, optical migraine."

    It is true that these are typical aura symptoms, but the aura phase has many symptoms, including:

    * auditory hallucinations - you hear sounds that aren't there

    * confusion in thinking - things aren't making sense

    * decrease in your hearing ability

    * difficult finding the words you want

    * dizziness

    * increased feel and touch - or reduced feel and touch

    * olfactory hallucinations - you smell odors that aren't there

    * partial paralysis

    * sight loss - partial or blurry vision

    * tingling or numbness of your face

    * visual hallucinations - you see sights that aren't there: flashing bright lights, wavy lines, spots, or zigzag lines

    If you have a painless migraine, your episode stops here. You do not go on to experience the throbbing pain.

    Other terms used for a painless migraine include "migraine equivalent," "silent migraine," and "sans-migraine." Even if you think yours is a painless migraine, consult with your health-care provider to be sure. Other serious conditions may be present.
     
  12. BEG

    BEG Senior Member

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    Thanks, Athene, for those interesting facts about migraines. This morning my vision has been very blurry. Nothing else is going on, slept well and not PEM'd. If this a migraine aura, I hope it's a painless one.

    Dainty, regarding sensory overload, I went to the mall yesterday in my power chair. I thought, great, I'll be able to shop all afternoon. WRONG. I was dismayed to find out that the sensory overload within the mall actually gave me physical fatigue. If I had a tiny amount of klonopin or a lyrica capsule on hand, I could have been more comfortable, but this phenomenon was totally unexpected although I experience it in my own home. DUH.
     
  13. Athene

    Athene ihateticks.me

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    Have you tried wearing dark sunglasses when you go to shopping centres or other places with strip lighting? I find that improves my tolerance quite a lot.
     
  14. BEG

    BEG Senior Member

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    Thanks for the tip, Athene. I wear them in my own home; you would think I could have figured that out. Again, DUH.
     
  15. TomStones

    TomStones

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    I find the sensory overload one of the most difficult symptoms to deal with. It has pretty much ended my social life because everywhere is just so noisy and overy simulating. It feels as though my brain doesn't know when to stop trying to add detail to what i am seeing and as sush leaves little room for me to process what i am trying to say or what i am trying to listen to. It wears me out very quickly and can leave me distressed and unable to communicate until rested properly.
     
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  16. serenity

    serenity Senior Member

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    i'm sorry Tom, i sort of know that feeling - you may have it worse than me even but i count it among my worst symptoms. i mean, fatigue dizziness & pain are all worse to feel but the sensory overload is very distressing when you are tryin to deal with other people. it's as if you notice things they just don't see, like they block it all out & go on while you process everything. it is tough.
    i find if i try to tell people they act like i'm crazy or paranoid, but i percieve things that they just don't. it's sensativity, but not in a good way.
     
  17. TomStones

    TomStones

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    Yes, it's as though the mechanism that should tell the brain that it has enough detail fails and we go on to collate more information and make more connections between things. My friends do think i'm a little crazy because i'm forever pointing out what appears to me to be obvious but to them seems obtuse. I had to het rid of my TV because of the overload and because i found it very lacking in the detail that my brain was seeking.

    If i was trying to describe it i would have to say it's as though a genius had taken possession of your brain and was trying to do genius like things with a brain that wasn't up to the job. The cruel irony being that i get to feel extremely unintelligent whilst this is all happening due the the brain fog and exhaustion it all worsens.
     
  18. serenity

    serenity Senior Member

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    yes - my friends think i'm nuts but i am always right! i seem to see things that are very obvious to me & competely elude them. & it's exhausting, seeing so much all the time. i read some book i should give you the name of, let me find it...
    the Highly Sensative Person. it's an old book i think & maybe you already know of it but i found it comforting.
    it described me pretty well.
    what's odd is, i feel very intelligent. sometimes i wonder if i am more than others, cuz they seem to just not see what i see - & i do come from a remarkably intelligent family. i honestly didn't think i had brian fog at all, then i realized - oh, it's not that i just cant do math & can't read maps & get lost all the time, that's the fog - ok i get it.
    but i know it's not that i am smarter, i see warning signs others dont' see but then i blatantly igorne them so how smart is that!? haha!
    oh, as for TV - i had to start watching tapes of my favorite shows. i just watch them over & over because i know they are "safe". most TV is too brutal for me, even if i'm watchin a show that is easy enough to watch the commercials come in & are too brutal. it's like others just dont' care, like they don't feel it the way i do when they see brutality in the media. but that has been discussed on another thread already, the not being able to watch much TV thing. we all do seem to agree on that.
     

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