How Chronic Migraine Made Me Sensitive

How Chronic Migraine Made Me Sensitive

Growing up on a farm tends to create a tough personality, even in girls. My grandfather only had girls who in turn only had girls; therefore, we grew up sharing chores that were not always feminine. A lesson we learned early in life was to tuck and roll when things got tough and to get right back in the saddle afterwards. Despite living almost 20 years with this at my core, when chronic migraine took over my life it made me sensitive.

Photophobia

The first sensitivity that others notice about me is my extreme photophobia. Photophobia is the sensitivity to lights. I am extremely sensitive to direct sunlight. To the point I do my best to avoid it and take a vitamin d supplement. I do not go outside without extremely dark polarized sunglasses. This is the one accessory where my husband and I will spend a significant amount to make sure the glasses work for me. At one point, I wore cutting safety glasses as sunglasses because they blocked out even more levels of lights than regular polarized sunglasses. The only issue with the cutting glasses was that they were not safe for driving because the glasses canceled out the red lights, from brake lights to the words on the Amber Alert signs. Any kind of flashing lights such as some stop lights or lights inside some types of clubs are a huge trigger. While driving in the dark, early mornings or late at night, the headlights from other vehicles, building lights and signs, and stop lights can be problematic for me. This is especially the case if I already have the start of a migraine. Considering I was raised in the great outdoors, you would not expect this type of extreme sensitivity from me. Thank you chronic migraine.

Hyperacusis

Another sensitivity I now deal with is Hyperacusis. This is the sensitivity to general everyday sounds. When a noise is persistent, it will most likely trigger the pain of a migraine. For example, if I am talking to someone who has small dogs and those dogs are non-stop barking, a migraine will definitely start if I am unable to make the noise stop or retreat from it. I find myself very sensitive to loud noises as well. This can sometimes make things complicated at home because my husband has hearing loss due to his military career. There are times when something like the television is too loud for me but still too quiet for him! Due to my sensitivity to sound and my really small ear canals, my husband had custom ear plugs made for me at a gun show. These are specifically molded to the inside of my ears because the disposable ones will not stay put inside my small ears.

Hyperosmia

Finally hyperosmia is the sensitivity to smells or the heightened sense of smell. This means that I have a very strong sense of smell and this makes me sensitive to strong smells. These smells can include things like food or perfumes and body lotion scents.

While these sensitives started as symptoms of my migraine, as time went on they became triggers for my migraine as well. Never did I imagine having so many intense sensitivities or weaknesses so young in life. But as with most elements of chronic migraine, I have to push through and adapt as my body changes.

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 (14)
  • falling-doors-suck
    5 months ago

    Movement. That does it for me. Any movement makes me wish I were dead. When I have a migraine I need to lay perfectly still, which is impossible.

  • Maryanne
    5 months ago

    I agree. You are not alone.

  • Emae
    5 months ago

    This totally shows you that you are not alone. My family and friends things I’m neurotic or crazy since I always wear sunglasses, I please tell somebody to stop if they are making a loud and repetitive sound, and strong smells that make me dizzie or nauseous (100 times more when I have a migraine all this).

  • RobinfromCA
    6 months ago

    This community is great in that we get to realize we are not alone and that we aren’t crazy when we experience these things. I had no idea there were words to describe these sensitivities but for as long as I can remember I’ve been hypersensitive to sounds and smells. As a child I didn’t have migraine pain but always had those sensitivities. Now I wonder if it was a sign of things to come. I stay very aware of these things in my grandchildren because I don’t ever want them to be misunderstood if they start experiencing these things as well.

  • cattlequeen
    11 months ago

    I think you just described my life all the way to the farm and hubbies hearing issues. I would love to go to movie night but no someone might be wearing perfume and the movie would be like kill me now! I’m so glad my jersey cows understand if I don’t turn the barn lights on and just milk in the dark! and quiet with no smells (usually) !! I don’t drive at night anymore and rarely get to rock out to my favorite song! I am very relieved that other people have the same issues as me but also I am sorry other people have the same issues as me. stay strong farm girl! you and everyone else suffering from this are in my prayers!

  • ten2617
    1 year ago

    My gosh…. this is me. Sight, sound, smell, food, crowds, vibrations, and hormonal fluctuations are all triggers for me Good times

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    I’m sorry you’re affected this way too but I am glad you can see that it is not just you. So many of us have become so sensitive from the effects of living with our chronic migraine. I hope you have found ways to cope.
    Sending you lots of love
    Amanda Workman

  • rlc25e
    1 year ago

    My light sensitivity is more to artificial lights. But I totally am there with you on headlights and stuff like that. No more concerts or haunted houses even on a good day. And smells too! Never had so much issue with sound but something barely noticeably to others can set off an episode for me in minutes

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    1 year ago

    I definitely could not imagine a concert or a haunted house these days. But yes I’m definitely affected by things most people do not seem to notice. Smell affect a lot of people with migraine. You are not alone there at all, even good smells such as candles can set off a migraine for people. My mom had to tell my aunt to change her perfume!! She was killing us both and my mom is not chronic!
    Sending you lots of love and strength
    Amanda Workman

  • H
    1 year ago

    I have sensitivities to all of those same things, though not to the same level as you do! I read an article a while back that the more you use ice packs on your head, the more you can sensitize yourself to light. I can’t remember if the article was on this website or not. Or maybe it was one of the webinars? Anyway, I tried reducing my dependence on ice packs to times when I absolutely had to have them. Over a few months, I noticed that my sensitivity was reduced! I also use the Axon glasses indoors and outdoors, as well, but I had been using them before I tried reducing my dependence on the ice packs. I am still sensitive to light and I still have to be careful, but it has improved!

  • ten2617
    1 year ago

    Ah good to know! I use an ice bag but only when I’m desperate

  • Joann
    1 year ago

    Dang! I had no idea there was a name for my smell sensitivity. It’s a real pain since I still work. I keep fans going all year long to help. I can smell smoke before anyone else. Lysol, cleaning wipes, cologne, perfume, scented markers, cigarette smoke, smoke scented clothing, exhaust fumes. I think that may be the full list. These drive me insane! I will get a migraine within minutes. I can get pretty cranky around work when someone wears strong perfume day after day and doesn’t care how I feel (after I’ve asked them to stop). I just want to key their car, or something…..

  • wappaw
    1 year ago

    Imagine working in a chemical plant for 40 years; all of these conditions had an impact on my migraine life while I was working. Thought retiring might help, but it has not. Change in sleep patterns, eating schedules, medicine routines, weather, how working in my yard has changed muscle use patterns, all contribute to my new migraine schedule… What else can we all do…

  • dmae
    1 year ago

    There’s a name for sensitivity to everyday sounds? I’ve learned something new today. Thank you, Amanda!

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