Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Running from loud toilets, dryers, and more!

In a previous post I mentioned how the sheer pain I felt when a little girl was drying her hands using an XLERATOR â„¢ was confirmation for me that I had a migraine after all. But thinking about that experience made me think about how I always avoid loud noises, even when I am not in the midst of a migraine episode.

As you probably know, migraineurs tend to be hypersensitive to the world around them. Bright lights, harsh smells, loud noises, and the like can be hard to tolerate, even when the migraineur is not in the midst of an attack.

I, for one, opt to skip on the hand-drying or use tree-killing paper towels in lieu of the high-powered, ultra-loud automated hand dryers in many public restrooms. But I also have other weird habits when it comes to avoiding loud noises.

I wear earplugs at the movie theatre (when I actually remember them), and I never go to a music performance without some squishy earplugs in my pocket. I often wince when the music in the car is too loud and have to be the party pooper who turns it down to a level that doesn’t throb or pierce my eardrums. And I run from loud toilets.

You heard me right: I run from loud toilets. There’s one in particular I’m thinking of, a toilet in a downtown Athens business establishment that is so loud I will bend my head to the side to protect my left ear with my left shoulder and will protect my right ear with my right palm. I’ll pick up my bag and open the door with my one free hand and run from the stall so I don’t have to hear the deafeningly loud flush. I’ve only been caught doing this once and I just smiled at the seemingly confused girl who was waiting to use the toilet after me.

Have any of you had issues with the loudness/harshness of public restroom hand dryers or toilets? I see I’m not the only one who’s noticed this but wonder what you think. Have you ever been “caught in the act” as you do something kind of silly to avoid harsh noises, lights, or smells?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Michaelfl
    8 years ago

    Went to a minor league baseball game–our seats were under 2 huge speakers. I came without a headache, and was to cocky to move. By the time we left I was feeling the odd head feeling. Got home, and my migraine hit. Lesson learned, I hope, even when I’m feeling great be aware of and take steps to avoid obvious triggers. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories.

  • Sarah Scott Blankenship
    8 years ago

    I unplug the plug in air fresheners in my office and avoid stores that have strong perfumes (Victoria’s Secret once gave me a migraine and I was in bed for a week!). I wear sunglasses indoors where there are florescent lights, and I rarely use them in my office. I won’t go to concerts with loud music unless they are outside, and I no longer go places that might have strobe lights (like clubs or sometimes haunted houses) I pay my babysitter to take my kids to 3D movies. There’s a lot of triggers out there, and I try to avoid them as much as possible. My friends and family are used to my quirks and don’t comment on them anymore. People I don’t know, well, I don’t care what they think!

  • Elizabeth A Lanham
    8 years ago

    I have a super-sniffer! I can walk into my moms/sisters/friends house and say “hey, did you know you have an apple going bad?” I was at a party for a friends birthday. It was at night but I was still wearing sunglasses and earplugs and later I opened the windows and was fanning the door to get my friends perfume out of the room (it was the end of January, in a blizzard) I got a lot of weird looks, but I didn’t want to miss out on the special occasion so I do what I have to. I go to movies with earplugs and sunglasses too.
    I have a kit in my purse at all times. It has my medications (pain and abortive), earplugs, super dark sunglasses. washcloth, a mouth guard (I grind my teeth if the migraine includes shocks) and even an MP3 player with a certain kind of music on it. They are each a little different so I have to be prepared!

  • Cathy Ashenfelter Christensen
    8 years ago

    I’m a smell person. Going out “anywhere” their are diesel, bio diesel, older vehicles not maintained putting out exhaust fumes that’s a trigger for me. In a parking garage where odors get trapped is awful, in the summer heat fumes are more potent too. In a vehicle trying to judge how far behind or change lanes so as not to be behind someone at a traffic light, of course then one drives up beside you! Masks aren’t real helpful as they make me very warm (another trigger) and people do stare at you. I’m a walker for exercise, so many anymore have lawn service companies for weekly yard care. All of them use gas leaf blowers (horrid smell) in neighborhoods I don’t know they are there until one starts to use it and it’s too late. I carry something to cover my nose/mouth with and hurry by, even crossing the street, yet the looks on others faces and the chuckles from the workers, well you know. They don’t know the why. Yet the positive side of my strong sense of smell is I can smell great smells like flowers while out walking before I see them or other pleasant scents. As with the others that talked about their hearing being sensitive, I too deal with that prior to or during a migraine. Especially people’s pitch to their voices, hearing a ringing or shrill sound from electronics (my neurologist said it was similar to a dogs hearing) and one ear is really sensitive to when someone is blow drying my hair (I wince on that side, yet try not to show it). Left side-migraine side. “Not Every Day is Good…Yet There is Something GOOD in Every Day!”.

  • MigraineMe
    8 years ago

    When I’m not having an attack, I am pretty tolerant of noises, but during an attack I absolutely cannot handle noises, and particularly certain tones and voices really make it worse. But, how do you tell someone at your office or someone who offers to help take care of you that you can’t stand the sound of their voice and that you really just need them to stop speaking?

  • Deborah Yoder Jones
    8 years ago

    I always keep keep ear plugs in my purse! I’ve been known to go around blowing out scented candles in other peoples houses at parties. PU…they kill me!

  • Deborah Yoder Jones
    8 years ago

    Also have had to move seats at church because of heavy perfumes!

  • Maggie McNeely
    8 years ago

    When I was little I used to clean the carpet by hand when it was my turn to do the vacuuming. The sound was so loud to me I would rather crawl around on hands and knees picking up whatever debris I could find. It worked: when my mother would return she thought I had vacuumed. I even went to the trouble to make that sweeping pattern in the carpet using my forearm. Thankfully as an adult I have a canister vac that is not very loud at all.

  • Linda Barham Nabors
    8 years ago

    I have big problems with loud noises. My fingers or earplugs are in my ears, alot! Yes, I am the wet blanket on loud music too, or someone who is too loud around me. My kids have grown up with me this way, and now at 28 & 30 they are still mindful of being quieter around me. I hate being this way, but it is my reality and so we all make the best of it. If I have a day that I am not sensitive, we turn it up and party!

  • Linda Castellano
    8 years ago

    I guess lucky for me I do not have an issue with loud noises during an attack but I cannot tolerate any odor-.These are odors that I do not smell without a headache, really weird! Certain odors that I have never noticed before are so intense I have to take a wash cloth and cover my nose-No kidding between the heating pad on the back of my head an ice pack wrapped around my head and my wash cloth that I have to hold-on my face it actually hurts both arms to keep holding these items on my head for 12-72 hours.When I have to go to the E.R. I walk in with a water bottle and 2 wash cloths in case I drop one on the floor I could not use that one-(gross)-and a tissue is strong enough to cover any smell for me. I believe that when you tell these problems to people who do not have this brain disease they honestly do not undertand and think you are losing your mind.This is all too sad for all of us. Feel good everyone-(yea right!)-:)

  • Miriam Nockenofsky
    8 years ago

    for me its the way some people talk, they have such high voices or scream I guess when they get excited but that bothers me so and makes my migraine even worse. I try to stay away from crowds cause people get soo noisy and don’t really care when I ask them to lower their voices, I guess some people say I’m a hermit or anti social but I really don’t care, lol.

  • Sarrah Vesselov
    8 years ago

    For me it is high pitch sounds. Glass clinking, silverware on plates, and sneakers squeaking on linoleum are all enough to make me jump. It is embarrassing and people probably think I am overreacting but it is so painful to my ears. I find that covering one ear is enough to dull the impact and keep it from triggering an attack most of the time.

  • Andrea Kline
    8 years ago

    Also- I ride Metro sometimes to downtown DC- if someone comes on and sits near/next to me with heavy perfume, reeking of cigarette smoke or (as happened the other day) a woman pullls out nail polish and starts doing her nails, I move to the other end of the subway car.

  • Adrienne Brewer Connolly
    8 years ago

    While covering ears (either my own or my kids’), and also trying to avoid whatever nasties lurk on those flush handles, I’ve taken to using my foot to flush in most public restrooms. If you have the balance, that is, which I often DON’T during a migraine. :/

  • Poll