Heightened sensitivity to noise, known as phonophobia, is one of the more unpleasant symptoms of migraine headaches for which doctors are unable to help. There is hope however. Noise or more correctly white noise. The phonophobia most migraine sufferers experience is specifically sensitive to loud or sudden noises and white noise can help.
So, what is this noise? Well if you have seen Pollyanna you know that white light is composed of every color of the spectrum. In the same way this noise is composed of all the audible frequencies. These sounds are evenly spread across the frequency band so that no individual sound or frequency stands out. When mixed the frequencies cancel each other out and in doing so create a deadening effect.
Some migraine sufferers have been helped by this deadening effect which masks other more painful sounds during a headache. It seems fairly obvious that one of the best ways of dealing with headache pain is to sleep through it but often the migraine pain is so severe it is impossible to sleep through especially when combined with increased sensitivity to light and sound. A white noise machine or recording can help soothe the sensitivities long enough to enable the person suffering the migraine to fall asleep.
In those who experience prodrome symptoms, symptoms that warn them of an impending attack, this noise can help to ward off the headache. Many sufferers experience noise as a migraine trigger and by removing the noise trigger the headache can be stopped. It has also been suggested that white noise machines be made available to sufferers at work as a prophylactic measure to reduce downtime due to headaches.
Some have found relief from their migraines by staring at the static, visual white noise, on their TV screen set between channels or with the cable unplugged. Those who have found the visual noise to be of benefit recommend viewing it with the sound turned off.