Most of us have probably once had a “what’s that smell” moment. For migraines sufferers, the symptoms worsen when they encounter a particular smell. The cause of migraine isn’t clear, but it’s thought to be a neurological condition caused by abnormal brain activity resulting in multiple symptoms. Intense and unbearable headaches often characterize this condition. The common symptoms of migraines include vomiting, nausea, numbness, difficulty speaking, sensitivity to sound and light, etc.
According to clinical reports, 25 to 50% of migraine sufferers experience increased sensitivity to smells when they have migraine headaches. Besides, about 50% of the reports suggest that intense odors can result in acute migraine attacks. Usually, this extra sensitivity (osmophobia) results from increased stimulation of particular odor and pain receptors in the brain. The familiar smells are as follows:
1. Cigarette smoke
According to research, cigarette smokers tend to experience plenty of migraine attacks. Plus, daily smoking of more than five cigarettes may trigger headaches. These symptoms may also affect even those who don’t smoke through passive means. In other words, if you sit in a room with someone smoking a cigarette, you may experience migraine symptoms if you are a sufferer
2. Food odors
Most people love the incredible smell of some fried or fatty foods or ingredients. But as for some migraine sufferers, these smells may cause severe health symptoms. Also, odors from rotten foods may trigger their symptoms. Apart from the smell, the symptoms may be due to feeding on certain foods. They include aged cheese, soy sauce, and others having a compound called tyramine. For some people, this compound may be a migraine stimulator and may affect the patient negatively. Those with migraine aura may experience olfactory hallucination, which means they may smell something that is not there
Perfumes are commonly used products to make you or something smell nice. However, wearing too much of it like cologne may be an offending odorant for most migraine sufferers. In other words, strong perfume smell increases the sensitivity and intolerance of olfactory cells of such patients to odors. As a result, strong perfumes can make the condition’s symptoms worse, resulting in difficulty breathing, headaches, or nausea
4. Cleaning chemicals
Most cleaning chemicals produce excessively strong smells. While they help make the cleaned surfaces smell fresh and fantastic, they can cause a migraine attack. The odors stimulate specific nerve receptors in the nasal pathways hence triggering a migraine attack. Or, the smells can worsen the already started migraines. This may result in symptoms like nausea, difficulty in breathing, and acute headaches
5. Candles or air fresheners
Some candles produce a particular fragrance when burning. That’s why some people use them as air fresheners. Besides, the factory-made air fresheners for cars, offices, or homes may have excessive odor concentration. Therefore, they may trigger several migraine symptoms and eventually cause attacks
That said, odors and smells are among the trigger factors of migraines. Typically, a single trigger may not necessarily cause a migraine all time. But, when the stimulating factors combine, they may result in an attack. It would be best if you understood a specific smell for your migraines to prevent the symptoms and pain.