Migraine & Heightened Senses

Migraine & Heightened Senses

“A school bell sounded like a dentist drill going through my ears”

For people who are not super-sensitive to light, sound, and smell, it can be nigh on impossible to explain what it’s like to have heightened senses.  Even when I’m feeling extremely healthy and migraine-free, I can smell a cigarette from a hundred feet away, notice that one flickering bulb in an otherwise well-lit room, and detect that high-pitched buzzing that somehow isn’t driving everyone else up the wall.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re a migraineur. And if you’re a migraineur, it’s likely that you know what it’s like to hear a sound that seems to pierce your eardrums while no one else in the vicinity seems to even notice.  Phonophobia can be especially prevalent during a migraine attack.

One of my strangest phonophobic quirks is that, while listening to music (either live or on my stereo), certain songs can be turned full blast while others are impossible to tolerate.  Live concert recordings can be really hard to listen to loudly:  the music can sound fabulous and I’ll be rocking out happily until the audience explodes in applause. Instead of taking in happy clapping, my ears perceive the sound in a painful way:  it’s as if my eardrum is a tin roof and the applause is hail raining down violently on that roof.  I instinctively turn the volume down, often to the confusion of whoever’s listening to the music with me.

As frequent readers of my blog know, I go to see a lot of live music.  I always come armed with my earplugs (confession: I buy them in bulk!), but sometimes rock shows can be so loud (especially the cymbals and screeching guitars) that I have to step out, even if I’m not migraining.

How have you with very sensitive ears dealt with your phonophobia (sensitivity to sound)?  Do you experience phonophobia all the time, or only during a migraine attack?  How do you cope when you are in an environment where sounds are out of your control?

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

Comments

View Comments (49)
  • katsock
    3 years ago

    For me it is the lack of some sort of base noise. Even if I am in the middle of an attack I have to have something to cover everything else.

    My husband works from home and I was sitting on the couch near him Sunday night. He was talking to a client and I started to drift off to sleep, well the next thing I heard was this loud crunching noise like eating potato chips x100 that woke me up. I groggily asked him what was going on and he said nothing and I started drifting back out when the noise started again, so I removed the blindfold and sat up and put on my glasses and nothing is going on. Sit back, relax, I hear it again. There that sound what is that? From him, I am eating some melted ice from my glass. OMG it sounded like 10 people had surrounded me and were eating potato chips.

    Now I have been known to sleep through company coming in, doorbells ringing, dogs barking, etc. so he said you heard that across the room? Yes, yes I did. I guess I should have put the extreme hearing and the sleepiness together because Monday the only time I left my bed was to throw up but even on normal days I can not sleep with out sound.

    I am not the princess and the pea I am the princess and the radio. I have to have something on or it will wake me up or I can not get to sleep. I hear every sound in the house and outside. I get out of bed trying to hunt the noises down. So I just turn on the radio and let it cover up everything.

    YEAH! Living with super hearing.

  • Teresa
    3 years ago

    I am another one who thought it was just me who could not not stand many conversations at one time. My husband took it personally that I did not want to go into his VA appointments with him, but I just could not handle sitting in the waiting room because all of those people talking at one time would drive me out of my mind. I love rock music and can listen to it at a loud volume and go to concerts as long as I am not having an active migraine. But there are some sounds that will give me a migraine immediately. Anything repetitive, a very high sustained pitch, brass (like trumpets), and a few others. I am also extremely sensitive to smells and lights. I wrote to Dodge on Facebook about a commercial they have with flashing headlights because it gave me migraine the first time I saw it.

  • kristen
    3 years ago

    I thought the ‘too many convos at once’ was just me. I think it’s part of having sharpened hearing. You can hear everything at once, and everything is coming in clear, and it’s just brain overload.

  • Vicki H
    3 years ago

    I’m a lucky one… I’ve gone years without having any phonophobia. It’s only been over the past year that I’ve noticed some sounds starting to bother me – particularly my dog’s bark. I am, however, particularly sensitive to light and scents – particularly sunlight.

  • Migrainesbegone
    5 years ago

    For me it’s cigarette smoke, certain perfumes, especially if they are strong, bright light, loud noises (motor bikes, trains, sirens…..ughhh…. I HATE those sounds)…. any kind of roller coaster rides or such that spin you and make you dizzy, not getting enough sleep, too much sleep, not sleeping on the same pillow, skipping meals….. anything out of a normal routine. Kinda crazy.

  • vitamin_migraine
    5 years ago

    Does anyone else hallucinate smells before a migraine? For me it’s either overwhelming rotting bananas or burning chalk. There is no way these are real.

    In normal mode, I can’t smell anymore. Hardly anything. When I’m migraining I will run off the subway and wait for the next one if someone is wearing perfume. The smell if food makes me vomit.

    I’m congenitally hard of hearing, luckily. Nails on chalkboard? I can’t catch that frequency, lol.

    What *I’ve* found for light and noise is keep it consistent. If you’re in a pitch black room lighting a match will kill my eyes. So I try to keep all the lights approximately consistent from room to room, little night lights or table lamps, or have things on a dimmer — obviously anything too bright is still going to be horrible. Same with sounds. Yes I want to scream at my family to shut up at gatherings as there are SO many of them so they all actually yell on top of each other (migraine trigger, as well as inconsistent lights from room to room — my dad watches TV in the dark, while my mom has every light on) but its the smoke detector going off that breaks me and I start crying.

    So try to keep things consistent. No pitch black and complete silence or else you will die when you need to turn on the lights to go the bathroom, or a car drives by your house.

  • kristen
    3 years ago

    Burnt rubber and propane are the two smells that like to hit me before and during some migraines. It is literally the worst thing in the world, because everything smells and tastes like whatever that scent is.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Vitamin_migraine,
    I do not hallucinate smells before a Migraine, but this is absolutely a “thing.” I just finished reading Dr. Oliver Sacks’ (a famed neurologist)book Hallucinations. He describes his own olfactory hallucinations before having a migraine, more specifically buttered toast. The book is fascinating. Check out the interview below from NPR.

    http://www.wbur.org/npr/164360724/oliver-sacks-exploring-how-hallucinations-happen

  • Kim Smith Lawson
    5 years ago

    Double bass drum? I’m flat by the end of the first half of the song… oh!

  • tessa
    5 years ago

    dearest Janet, have mercy I found you!! girl, I have it all! I, too, invest in bulk – that’s given, as my son has 2 bands and they are heavy, hard core, metal – screamers!! yikes! I can hear things that nobody else can, and little sounds are excruciating. my head often feels like it weighs 50# and I can hardly lift it off my pillow. my pain lasts for 7 – 15 days straight with no relief. smells, sounds, light, dizziness, nausea, but, hey – I see light orbs and flashing stars. have you heard of that? sorry to go on and on, I just have so much to ask and you seem to know a whole lot. i’d sure like to hear from you. thank you in advance. tessa… oh yeah, I used to go to the frog pond in Athens years ago…UGA!!!

  • Debby M
    5 years ago

    YES YES AND YES! I know I drive my new husband crazy as we are adapting to each other, adjusting to each other’s quirks etc. Having a very noisy teenager in the house is a huge challenge; yet as you said, I can go to a loud concert and enjoy the music (when headache free), the comment about live music recordings was a lightbulb moment for me! Too many noises coming from too many sources is absolutely maddening, all the time, not just when the monster comes to visit. Light sensitivity, YES; smells, yes; and as part of my aura and pain cycle, allodynia also. Thank you for sharing this. Doesn’t make me seem any less nutty to my new family but perhaps reading some of these stories will help them realize I’m not just “being difficult”.

  • Anita Boice
    5 years ago

    my fiancée swears I can hear a mouse fart at 300 yards. It seems my hearing is always in overdrive. I use meditation to “turn it down” or I consciously focus on one sound to the exclusion of all others that is not painful. When I do that, though, I have to ask people to repeat stuff because most human voices are outside of my noise comfort zone. I also always have to have some level of “white noise”. If it’s too quiet, the slightest sound can drive me crazy. I always have a cd/mpeg of frog sounds and bird sounds with me.

  • kallengar
    5 years ago

    Very interesting. Until I read these posts I thought that I was alone in what I was experiencing. I live in a busy city and love to walk for exercise. I wear earplugs to cut down on the sound of my neighbors leaf blowers, lawnmowers,pressure washers, kids screaming, dogs barking,
    useless status mongering monster diesel trucks that are never used to transport anything excepts the fat asses of their owners, sirens, Harley Davidsons with mufflers removed, and all the other typical aural hazards in the area.
    Then there are the semiconscious,cologne and perfume wearers, drenched in toxic substances, who, even outdoors with a breeze blowing can make me feel nauseous, poisoning me from up to a block away if I am downwind of them(no exaggeration). I feel it all as an assault,as an invasion of my personal space, much the same as if someone punched me in the face. I hate staying at home, and I want exercise so I endure it all. Hell is the above combined with heat and bright light.
    If I take a break from my walk, I look for a quiet coffee shop where I can study and relax. I need a seat that is away from perfume wearers and loud self-centered inane conversations. A tall order many times. If there is lots of general background noise, but I can’t pick out individual conversations then I can ignore it without any problems. What really helps is an application on my cellphone that generates various types of white noise, like the sound of a stream, surf, crowds, and this for me has been a lifesaver. Not too long ago I had major surgery and was roomed with a compulsive talker. The noise generator enabled me to peacefully recover while never having to listen to him. Listening to more noise to mask unwanted noise might be somewhat counterintuitive, but it really works for me.

  • Eve
    5 years ago

    Wow I’m so glad to read this post & know others have issues with sounds even when you don’t have an active migraine–I just thought I was born an impossibly irritable person! I have had migraines my entire life, and have also always been extremely sensitive to certain kinds of sounds. As a kid, my parents had to have a plan of escape/avoidance when taking me anywhere with the potential for loud sounds, and by age ten I was in the habit of carrying a just-in-case set of earplugs around with me pretty much all the time. The sound of anything with a small motor, from lawn mowers to power tools to the “click/WHOOSH/click/WHOOSH….” sound of the IV I had at the ER last week drives me bonkers & sometimes also physically hurts.

  • carla-fisher
    5 years ago

    I can really relate to this,I just thought I was weird. I can remember sitting in class and hearing this horrible noise from the thermostats at school. I would have to sit there in agony because I was the only one that could hear it. It seems that the more I read of these blogs the more normal I start to feel. Sometimes my senses seem so overloaded that I want to smack the cashier drumming their pen or fingernails on the counter while I am trying to pay for my purchase. I am so thankful for this migraine community I am starting to feel less weird. I bought some of those electronic pest repellant devices for my home, I have to unplug them they are driving me batty. I think it will drive me away before the pests.

  • lk26
    5 years ago

    I don’t feel like such a freak now. Growing up as 1 of 7 children I was labedled the weird one. Because of my heighten senses of all my senses, which started well before my migraines and have increased 10 fold since becoming chronic. When we go to a social function or even just grocery shopping, with the over head noise, people talking, cash registers, etc… I go into what I call sensory overall and get away from the situation as soon as possible. Some times I try to use my MP3 as a distr action tactic at some point in an acute attack, but lately have had to just stop it because of getting tried of having to adjust the volume when each song started. My son, who is 19 now, when he got old enough would beg not to vacuum. He would rather clean bathrooms and would not even stay in the same part of the house as the vacum was running. I had also noticed the signs to sensitivity of other things. He was diagnosed with Aspergers, a spectrum Austism when he was 14. In my research about Aspergers, the sensitivities are very common with the disease. He has had 2-3 episodes what he described as “really bad headaches” during his childhood, which resolved with ibprofen & rest but fortunately none since. I will continue my quest of avoiding all weird things that are trying to attack me and continue my battle with chronic migraines!

  • Sophiasmom
    5 years ago

    I used to think I had migraines. but I found out it was really intracranial hypertension. the headache pattern in intracranial hypertension without papilledema is indistinguishable from that of migraine. I also have all of these sensory hypersensitivities and can relate to almost everything said here. and from talking to people with intracranial hypertension online, most of us with IIH have the sensory hypersensitivities. I had to ask for my spinal tap, or I would never have been diagnosed. also, same with my son, who has autism AND IIH. increased intracranial pressure will cause nausea. decreased barometric pressure (as with storms or altitude) will increase intracranial pressure. I just wanted to increase awareness about this because if you all have some symptoms ALL the time like I do, maybe it’s NOT migraine?

    the other thing that someone mentioned, about being able to listen to a church service but not multiple people talking at once. this difficulty attending to more than one sound/voice at a time is something Temple talks about in her book Thinking in Pictures, as a known characteristic of autism. I also have this. I use my MP3 player to drown out overwhelming noise and replace it with one soothing sound I can attend to. if I am overwhelmed for too long with noises like this it can put me into “brain fog”. I have proven that this symptom is actually caused by increased intracranial pressure. but chemical scent is the worst trigger and will do the same thing. I also fly Southwest but I get a Preboard pass for my disability (MCS) and select a seat, then screen people who try to sit next to me for perfume/scent. that way they know about my allergy when they try to sit next to me. most look at me in horror, especially when they see my gas mask, and move on. many times if there is only one empty seat on the plane, it ends up being next to me. this problem is very isolating as I am sure you all know. I am beyond caring at this point.

  • Vivian
    5 years ago

    I wrote a reply a few hours ago. But I forgot to ask Janet (the author of the featured post)a question: The title or headline mentions Temple Grandin, but I could never find anything in this post or elsewhere on the site about her. Did I miss something? Is this referring to a book or an article she’s written about heightened sensitivity? I’m quite familiar with this amazing woman’s work and writing, as our family regarded her as our chief source on Autism back when my granddaughter was diagnosed at age 5, almost 20 years ago. (my earlier post deals with sensual sensitivity suffered by my granddaughter, her mom and myself, even though her mom is neither autistic nor has migraines, and I am not austistic, but had a lifetime of migraine and aura (separate from the headache. My headaches have finally stopped and I am 81, but the auras grew worse and finally culminated simultaneously with a stroke in the occipital lobe two years ago.)

    I read a book many years ago by a woman professional (forgotten her name and medical title)about the highly sensitive people, as she was one herself. She didn’t connect the condition/trait to any particular disease, but I recall she estimated about 20 percent of the population is wired that way. Wish I could read it again. I certainly identified with the book’s content, and was comforted knowing it was more common than I would have guessed. I do recall that she connected the trait to artistic, creative types of people, and people with high intelligence who are prone to drive themselves hard. Typical of the thinking a few decades ago when psychology was all the rage. Thankfully, we know a lot more about the brain now. But we migraineurs do know that stress, whether physical, mental or emotional is a big trigger.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    5 years ago

    Vivian-Taylor – Hello 🙂 This post was a part of Migraine Awareness Month Blog Challenge. All topics were based on movies and plays. This topic referred to the movie Temple Grandin.

    You can read more about that here: http://www.ahmablog.com/mham.html

  • gmnaccarato@msn.com
    5 years ago

    I have suffered with migraines and noise sensitivity for years. I also have profound hearing loss.
    Although I cannot hear most sounds, others feel like a nail hammering through my head. The decibel level does not determine which sounds cause pain. A loud radio seldom pains me, but the kitchen light’s hum or the cat licking himself seem like I am standing next to a jet engine. These uncomfortable sounds frequently trigger a migraine.

  • Sonya
    5 years ago

    I too have the phonophobia. I love music but had to give up listening to it altogether years ago. I used to play it full blast in my car and was told “No wonder you have migraines.” But now I can’t even turn it on softly. My husband likes to listen to music to help him relax. I have to come upstairs and shut the door. I can still hear the thump thump thump of the beat. Then he turns it up. And turns it up again until I have a screaming headache. I actually call him on his cell phone to tell him to turn it down.
    Oddly enough, music in church seldom bothers me. If I don’t already have a migraine I can sing along and hit the high notes and be fine. But if I have a migraine coming on (without me realizing it yet) I will be singing and a note will pierce my head and I have to stop. I really miss music, but I miss chocolate too and learned my lesson long ago that it is not worth the pain to give in to what sets off my pain.

  • mom of 5
    5 years ago

    My entire life noise has bothered me when I’m in a confined area. Having to wear sunglasses because of light sensitivity was a given connection, because sunlight, baseball field and store lights, etc, have triggered migraines. But the sound sensitivity…never made the connection.
    As a music teacher, I have no problem with students singing or students piano lesson performances, but…but my sons having the tv on all the time grates on my nerves.
    I can only listen to the radio or CD’s/ipod for a certain period of time before it starts to irritate me so that I either seek silence or aggravate family members by wanting the noise turned off. I never questioned this sensitivity. But reading the blog, I realized that it is input noise overload that does me in, since forever.
    My ex-husband always had to have the radio on in the car, and it made me want to literally jump out of a moving car. How do you explain that to someone? Earplugs would have been a blessing had I thought to ever use them.
    Never made the connection to migraine,…but thanks to all for opening my eyes and ears to this.

  • Vivian
    5 years ago

    I just read all the posts on this article. Yes, heightened sensitivities to all five senses have always plagued me, too…with or without the headache part. Visual auras have been a special problem for me. (I wrote another post about this). But noise runs a close second.
    But it isn’t only migraineurs who suffer with these extreme sensual torments. I’ve known many others just as acutely plagued with this, and perhaps you have, also. My granddaughter, now 23,is high-functioning autistic. She considers her high sensitivities her most unbearable symptoms. Her mother is similarly afflicted, though she is not austistic nor a migraineur. Recently, at the “Superman” movie, all of us had our fingers in our ears, and came close to leaving the theater. The many previews were, of course, even louder, with the “action” films usual explosions etc. As a child, my granddaughter would being crying and begging to leave many movies. I could write a book about her suffering from noise, odors, bright lights. Same for touch and taste. I think she also suffers with migraine headaches, having observed her complaints and behaviors. I have always felt she and I have many similar traits, especially when I remember my childhood. But I am definitely not on the autism spectrum.

    My point is that I suspect it is inadequate to connect extreme sensual reactions just to migraine, or to autism or any other single disease. I hope researchers will eventually connect the dots and find the true culprit(s) that inflicts so many.

    I believe, from my own research and my personal physicality, that the cardiovascular, endocrine and neurological systems are closely tied together in people with these symptoms we are discussing. Something is haywire, out of balance, in the way these three systems work together.

    Other cultures and medical approaches from ancient times to the present, as we all know, contend that ALL body systems are adversely affected when any single system is diseased or damaged or hindered from working properly. But that’s a whole new conversation, isn’t it?

  • Cutmyhead
    5 years ago

    All sounds are misery, every light flickers and digs in the center of my eyes , smells of any kind go straight to activate my gagging reflex..
    I’m sure I’m not alone; you all know how this feels.. and it never goes away completely. Not even in the “good” days I can tolerate the movement of my windshield wipers when driving, or the smell of some perfumes and I would never be able to go to a disco again.
    But, I can’t tolerate earplugs or sunglasses either!! My skin hurts and makes the nausea and headache worse!. Am I alone in this stupid skin hyperalgesia??

  • sammijohnson
    5 years ago

    Wow – I’d always just assumed I was too sensitive to things. I didn’t realize this was common to all migraineurs! Pain or no pain, I always notice high-frequency pitches more than others, and they often times make me wince. I’ve also been told I have the nose of a bloodhound, which is true. These things can be both a blessing and a curse!

  • jessicamadore
    5 years ago

    This is me to a “T”. I am so sensitive to smells, Sounds and lights that I never leave my house without my migraine kit that has ear plugs, a mask and shades among other things. It gets worse during an attack but normally I am sensitive too. It also seems certain sounds, smells and lights are worse than others!

  • caradrouin
    5 years ago

    The smells. The smells. How do I live with the smells? The laundry. I wash all the clothes on the longest wash cycle with detergent and peroxide bleach. Then I run them again on Rinse And Spin with baking soda. Then I dry them and smell each one as I fold it. The ‘wash again’ pile is as big as the ‘ok’ pile. Then I wash the ‘wash again’ pile is soda ash or synthrapol. Sometimes this is ok.

    Trying to get dressed for bed, I pull a T-shirt off the top of the pile and pull it over my head. It reeks. I cannot sleep in this. I pull it off and throw it on the floor. The next T-shirt on, then off and onto the floor. Each shirt in the stack gets thrown to the floor. I go to the closet and start pulling clothes out, looking for one that does not smell like dirty laundry. Finally. Then I take the huge pile of rejected sleep/day wear and carry it to the laundry. It will take me all day tomorrow to wash it and try to get it clean.

    My husband smells it and he cannot smell anything. He says:
    “You are like a dog, you smell everything.” I am not like a dog. To a dog, there are no bad smells, just interesting smells. They LOVE all smells. I hate smells.

    Passing people in the market, I hold my breath so I cannot smell them. I do not want to know about their shampoo, their smoking habit, the curry they had for lunch, the infected tooth. To pass near to a stranger and smell them feels like an invasion of privacy. I do not want to know them so intimately. I feel embarrassed for them at the same time as I feel offended that they are intruding on my olfactory privacy.

    On a plane, I try to fly Southwest because the seats are not assigned. If I do not get on near the beginning, I can choose who to sit next to. In the waiting area, I pay attention so I can avoid perfumes. I am seated and safe. Until the passenger next to me pulls out moisturizer and spreads it all over her arms and hands. Oh. It is offensive. I cannot breath. I press the call button to ask to change seats. I want to smear poo all over my arms to be as offensive to her as she is to me.

  • Suki G.
    5 years ago

    Not sure why it says I’m logged in as . or how I’m going to fix that without deleting and creating a new account? Anyway this is Suki but my friends know me as . maybe because of my little pointy head?

    I am compelled to respond to Caradrouin with compassion. I too am an “osmophobe”. On my recent disability application my neurologist threw in “osmophobe”after “migraine”. Who knew that I had “sensory disorder of smell” and that the diagnosis number is 700.1????

    For a long time I thought I had multiple chemical sensitivity because petrochemical fragrances kick my migraine levels right up into an episode. Now that I’m chronic, I can’t manage the levels without avoiding petrochemical smells altogether because they are like torture to me when I’m sick.

    I met some really awesome folks in the MCS community and they have tricks for washing similar to those Cara describes.

    I have some experience getting accommodations for osmophobia/migraine at work and also during travel (which I used to do but no longer). so hit me up if you want to talk.

    I can be a little bit “in your face” about it, which is what I like about the MCS “community”. there are some real fragrance free advocates around here- let’s team up!

    Suki

    So anyway- Caradrouin- I can relate!

  • Auntstace
    5 years ago

    I feel like an echo, but wow, thought it was just me! The high pitched electronic frequencies that no one else hears but burrow into my brain, the gagging in the elevator from a stench no one else notices. Both photo and phonophobia is worse with a migraine but I’m always far more sensitive than anyone else I know. Nice to hear I’m not crazy. Now to buy some of those earplugs . . .

  • lmbrackett
    5 years ago

    Thank you so much for this post! I sometimes feel like no one understands what I’m going through. This web site has been so helpful. I am very sensitive to sound. One of my daughters loves to talk and is just naturally very loud. A non-migraneur friend once asked, “Was she born with that megaphone?” 🙂 I hate that I so often have to ask her to turn the volume down and let’s have some quiet time, whether I’m having a migraine or not. She is very understanding but it bothers me. I just don’t go to concerts any more. I have also noticed that being in a room with a lot of people having many individual conversations is particularly difficult….like at church before and after services…but then the actual service will be tolerable. Weird.

  • Cutmyhead
    5 years ago

    You are right!! I can’t concentrate when many people talk at a time!! It makes my mind jump from here to there and makes my heart race; it triggers a bad migraine immediately. But I’ve never known if it’s because of lack of oxygen of too many people in the same room or because i get anxious tryiong to pay attention to all but I finally heard that it happens to someone else!

  • BethBlue
    5 years ago

    This is me, this is me! I wish with all my heart that other people understood what this type of sensitivity feels like (of course, all of YOU do, and I thank God for that). I am constantly battling with my family about noises, be they cars, neighbors, or the volume on the television, and the stress from arguing is exacerbating my illness. I too have experienced the “changing colors” syndrome, and it’s wonderful to hear someone else say that it’s “real.” Meanwhile, the stress is almost worse than the pain.

  • Janet
    5 years ago

    I have heightened hearing and extremely sensitive to light migraining or not….nobody gets this except other migraineurs …it’s irritating to those I’m with…so can they even think they know what I’m going thru…no, sadly.

    Thanks for sharing migraine girl..once again I nodded along with each sentence I read.

    Blessings
    Janet

  • timgauss
    5 years ago

    I wear those soft mold-able silicon ear plugs when I go to the movies because they are always WAY to loud for me. Like Kasey, I am sensitive to loud noises and repetitive noises all the time, odors all the time, bright lights, flickering TV, loud music, hot temperatures.

  • CC
    5 years ago

    I too wear the soft silicon ear plugs. I started just at night or loud events, carrying a spare set in my bag but I now wear them 24hrs a day, bathing excepted. If I’m having a better day, I can mold them down to hear more. When the opposite occurs I just press them back in place.

    The other two hypers I’ve had that I hope I’m not alone on are men’s voices and bad breath. My father and brother have lower voices but every once in a while I felt like they were speaking to whales and using SONAR their voices seemed so low. It happened with teachers, high school and ever since. No idea what causes it, but I can almost feel their voices reverberating in my skull like a concussion.
    The other is bad breath. I can smell it 3 stories away if my boyfriend has eaten spicy or garlicky food. I’m immediately nauseous. I’ve tried room fresheners, deoderizers, candles, essential oils…all of fragrances I can tolerate, but generally I end up making a tent of towels and blankets when I sleep. He breathes through his mouth and has taken amazing steps in oral hygiene to help (and there is a mouthwash that helps tremendously, but makes his food and drink taste unpleasant). I think I have given myself hydrogen-dioxide headaches from lack of oxygen in my tents at night but I just can’t open for fresh air if there isn’t any. He’s dismayed that I smell him come home before he can come up to see me.
    All of these sensitivities we live with bring so much pain. The ones that affect loved ones are a unique and cruel torture to us both.

  • jend
    5 years ago

    I can relate to this so very much. Sound is so much worse for me than light. When I have a bad migraine and have the bad sound sensitivity EVERY sound hurts and where I work its just too loud! I am looking for another job because its just sensory overload and its just too much for me to take. But even when I dont have one sound bothers me and yes it is so funny that you say that sometimes certain sounds are OK and then they are not! most of the time my house is quiet I hate loud noise. I camp and I get so annoyed because people are so noisy I am going to start bringing head phones with relaxation music because everyone there seems to like to blast loud music at some point. Dont get me wrong I love my music but when I sit out side I love it peaceful and it makes me crazy. I am glad I am not alone.

  • Kasey
    5 years ago

    I am sensitive to loud noises and repetitive noises all the time, odors all the time, bright lights, flickering TV, loud music, hot temperatures.

    Sunglasses help tremendously indoors where the lights not favorable to a migraine persons condition. Ear plugs make it possible for me to go to the movies and actually enjoy it when I have a well day. As for odors, I steer clear of people with heavy cologne, cigarette smoke – which I admit is a lot harder to manage.

  • Nicole Rund
    5 years ago

    I interviewed for a front desk position at an assisted living facility. I sat in the lobby filling out some forms and every time the front door opened, a very annoying electronic bell rang behind the desk I would be sitting at if I got the job. I’m desperate for a job, but I knew I just couldn’t sit by that bell day in and day out, so I “threw” the interview.

  • jend
    5 years ago

    I can see that where I work its so loud I can not take it any more!!

  • Mattman
    5 years ago

    I would like to know if anyone gets color shifting. Everything looks like a poorly adjusted TV,like an old TV where the color is not turned up enough, or where everything looks bluish, or greenish? I Had a craniotomy 3 months ago for a hole in my skull, and my migraines have seemed to have changed.

  • Mattman
    5 years ago

    Thanks so much for posting this. Typically, only light bothers me, but today I am having a bad one. I got bored sitting in this dim room so I plugged in my guitar with the distortion turned on. After a couple of minutes, I am getting nauseous. I can’t even explain it. ( no, I don’t play that bad, ha,ha )I guess I’ll go back to reading these posts, as they have a distracting calming effect. By the way, I also have a stockpile of earplugs and sunglasses.

  • Nicole Rund
    5 years ago

    Some days I also get nauseous when I play my guitar, it usually happens when I’ve had a long busy day. And if it happens, I know a migraine is right around the corner.

  • Jacqueline
    5 years ago

    This is so true. I think the times which have been especially unbearable for me lately have been when I’m taking the public bus back home from work during rush hour. There are so many people standing on top of one another speaking so loudly and eating all kinds of food with strong smells. It is absolutely a difficult thing to describe because I can hear all the sounds so distinctly and the noise is deafening and yet it’s jumbled together in a way that seems to be a personal attack on your senses.

  • Michelle Meacham
    5 years ago

    “I can hear all the sounds so distinctly and the noise is deafening and yet it’s jumbled together …” This is a perfect summary of how I feel in a crowded room or if I have to spend time in a bright, noisy (i.e. casino-like) environment. It’s like my senses are picking up on every single individual bit of stimulation to such an extent that my circuits get completely overloaded, resulting in massive pain! Nice to know I’m not alone, but sorry anyone else has to feel this way 🙁

  • sammijohnson
    5 years ago

    I hear that! I always try to bring my ipod with me on the bus / subway so I can at least control the noise a little around me. Plus, it makes the time pass a little faster.

  • Sherrilyn Wickham
    5 years ago

    you are exactly right,it is so hard to explain to people that have never endured a migraine..I live smack dab between 2 railroad crossings and a 2 very busy and LOUD businesses..

    I can hear that train coming even while its at the other end of town..I can hear a buzzing noise from one of the businesses that no one else can hear all while in migraine mode..my family thinks im crazy but the noises bother me more than anything!..Sometimes smells will get me too ,like cigarettes,my oldest son smokes outside when he stops by and I can tell he’s here long before he walks in the door.

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