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10 Most Annoying Noises

What are some of the most annoying sounds? We experience all sorts of noises throughout the day but there are some we really cannot stand, and even worse, there's many that could harm your hearing.

Scroll on to see the 10 most annoying sounds.

Why do we find some noises unpleasant?

Noise is an inevitable part of our everyday lives and unfortunately, it can be detrimental to our hearing. However, as it can be difficult to avoid on occasions, people usually become annoyed and irritable when exposed to it.

The human brain is programmed to protect itself from any harm and to become alert and anxious when it picks up danger. Many sounds of a particular frequency and decibel level are perceived by the brain as a potential attack (such as alarms, sirens or horns) and evoke a sense of emergency. That raises the adrenaline level and increases the heart rate. If the danger is not real, as it is with many noises that we experience every day, this leads to irritation.

The human ear is sensitive to a wide range of frequencies but we hear most sounds in the 2000-4000 Hertz range. While some people may adjust to specific shrill and high pitch sounds and not lose concentration, e.g. at a noisy workplace, these sounds can be detrimental to the ear and can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. That is why it is very important not to tolerate an environment where there is constant noise. When that is unavoidable, the necessary measures should be taken in order to protect one’s hearing.

Studies on annoying sounds

Various studies around the world have tried to find the reason why some noises and annoying sounds are so unpleasant compared to others. While it is true that annoyance is individual, there are some sounds that can be defined as universally irritating.

An experiment conducted by Trevor Cox, a professor of Acoustic Engineering at Salford University, made some interesting findings about the sounds that provoke the most irritation. Some of the most annoying sounds that were voted by the participants included microphone feedback, babies crying and the squeaking sound of a seesaw.

Since the 2010 Football World Cup, vuvuzelas have gathered a substantial amount of resentment. A study conducted by New Scientist found out that vuvuzelas are not only annoying but also very dangerous for hearing. Listening to the sound they produce from 1 meter exposes the ear to 116 decibels. Spending more than 22 seconds in that environment is beyond the allowed work noise level.

10 most annoying sounds

Numerous noises could be defined as irritating depending on the particular individual. Some people find sounds that others make bothersome but do not mind when they make them personally.

Below is a list of some of the most common annoying sounds:

  1. Whining
  2. Eating, chewing, and slurping
  3. Snoring, sniffing and loud breathing
  4. Mobile ring tones
  5. Alarm clocks and car alarms
  6. Polystyrene rubbed together
  7. Nails or a squeaky chalk against a blackboard
  8. Clicking pens
  9. Dogs barking
  10. Mosquitos and flies

What is important to note is that perception is dependent on personality and very often on mood. It may be surprising to know that many noises (from 1 to 3) are all human actions performed on a regular basis and are more connected to perceived manners and behaviour than to a specific volume or frequency level.

Online hearing test

We have also built an online hearing test so you can check your hearing in the comfort of your own home. Our free hearing test is simple, takes 3-minutes, as you will receive your results instantly.

Results will indicate if you should take further action to protect your hearing.

About Hearing Direct

We are one of the world's leading hearing specialists, stocking a wide range of hearing aidsbatteriesaccessories, and amplified devices such as super loud alarm clocks and phones designed for the hearing impaired. Your hearing health is important to us and we produce the best advice and provide an essential set of products to satisfy your hearing needs.


If you have any questions about our hearing aids or any or the products we stock, then please do contact us and our expert team will do their best to help you.

In the meantime, check out our blog to see if any of the resources we have created can be of use to you and your hearing needs.

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