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Household Chores That Suffer When Migraine Strikes

Household tasks can be a struggle when living with migraine. Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to keep up with everyday chores when feeling your best, but when faced with a debilitating migraine attack, it can be nearly impossible. We asked you, the community, to share with us your thoughts and feelings on this battle, as well as the challenges of living with migraine while managing everyday chores. Below are some of the top concerns you shared with us.

Doing Dishes

Doing the dishes was a common thread. Many of you felt that washing dishes was major chore that often gets neglected!

“Dishes. So much so that a year ago I started using paper plates, etc. Wasteful and expensive, but it’s the best I can do.”
“My kitchen looks like a bomb hit!”
“Standing that long doing dishes, makes my neck tightening looking down at the dishes. Sets off my head usually. I try to push through as long as I can. As often as I can. But they build up fast.”
“Dishes. My husband is good and leaves me alone, but he never cleans the kitchen. He just quietly leaves a mess. If there were dirty dishes before, they remain untouched.”


So many of you reported that cooking is a difficult undertaking when living with migraine. Sometimes the struggle can be in actually preparing a meal, other times it can be the smell and scents alone that act as a trigger.

“Cooking is terrifying during a migraine. Both my kids are subsequent good cooks.”
“Cooking! Don’t want to eat much less cook.”
“The smell of food/cooking is too much to handle at times. Eating food is a chore itself.”
“Cooking!!! I cooked home cooked meals up until about a year ago. My migraines are now chronic and I’ve just lost the will to cook, so to speak. My husband will cook for us, God bless him.”


Laundry has been cited as a chore that many in our community need to neglect. Whether it be the physical lifting and folding, or the use of certain detergents and cleaning products, many of you felt that the laundry definitely gets put on the back burner.

“I don’t have the strength to do my laundry.”
“Anything that makes my head move, such as laundry, is extremely difficult.”
“Laundry! I’m too weak to carry the basket and WAY off balance!”
“Sometimes I can’t tolerate folding clothes. It’s all the neck and arm movements that cause my trigger points to start pinching and if I don’t stop immediately I get a migraine and can’t do anything for the rest of the day.”

Cleaning products

Most of you report that some cleaning products and migraine don’t mix. You have told us that cleaning gets passed over due to scents and smells of the products you’d need to use, on top of the intense energy it may take to do the job.

“Sweeping and mopping, even just using vinegar is too potent of a smell.”
“My bathtub, I can’t scrub it! The cleaner puts me to bed for at least a day.”
“Anything using cleaning products, especially this shower door cleaner that works great, it’s just a huge trigger. Even when I wear a mask, it still gets to me.”
“Scrubbing the tub! The fumes have me in bed within minutes. Thank goodness for my hubby or it would never get done.”
“I can’t use the heavy duty bleach cleaners without giving myself a massive migraine. My husband had to clean with the windows and doors open, and I have to stay on the opposite level of the house. It sucks. I feel like I’m useless.”


It was even brought up several times that taking care of one’s self was a chore that sometimes isn’t manageable!

“I can barely manage looking after myself let alone the house.”
“Can’t do anything except rest and try to get the pain to go away…sleeping for hours.”
“Showering and getting out of bed is pretty hard for me, as well as bending over or moving my head from side to side, going out, or listening to my own voice.”

It is clear that so many common tasks fall in priority when living with migraine, and that’s completely alright. You’re not alone if you notice your chore list takes a backseat when migraine strikes, but remember, it’s always okay to reach out for help from friends, family, and even professionals when tasks get too overwhelming!


  • DinaMay
    2 years ago

    Yes, I identify with everything in that list and more. But let me tell y’all about where I am now. I’m retired and so is my husband, he has Parkinson’s and some other things, I have lupus and migraines, etc., so we are in assisted living. Quarters are a bit small but the facility does and cooking and dishes, we get housekeeping once a week, and we can even get our laundry done. It’s a bit pricey but worth every cent to me. I’m seriously concerning rejoining the human race!

  • SearchingForAnswers
    2 years ago

    Wow, it’s so good to know that I’m not alone in this, but also really feels awful to know that this is so far from being anywhere near controlled in people’s lives. I have seen what are supposed to be top Neuros in my city and am thinking to look to other cities. How long can we go on like this? It’s been almost about 8 years for me. I hate not being able to clean up, wash my hair more than once a week – I always get a headache when I do, etc, etc.

  • DinaBalatti
    2 years ago

    1) Anything that makes noise: Vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher. My husband does these when I am in the other room or out of the house (I will even just go into the backyard or garage to avoid these noises)
    2) Food cooking smells of ANY kind, but particularly rice cooking. I find that one rather odd, but it’s true.I can’t cook at all anymore.

  • Gigimom
    2 years ago

    I cannot cook when I have a migraine, which is several times a week, so often when I don’t have one I cook huge batches of soup, chili, or other freezeable food stuffs. I freeze the food in meal size servings. On bad days my husband or I just heat and eat, although I generally don’t feel like eating.

  • EVWA1
    2 years ago

    I find changing the bed linen is the worst chore when I’m feeling unwell – it’s as though my brain can’t deal with the mathematics of it all (!!) and the duvet feels heavy and difficult. Using too much bleach is also difficult and can trigger a reaction.

  • GardensatNight
    2 years ago

    Dishes are my nightmare. All that clinking of pans and cooking utensils. We try to use paper plates and plastic cutlery, but inevitably there’s something metal or glass in the dishwasher.

    For the cleaning chemicals problem (I CANNOT tolerate the smell ever and no way am I going down with a five day migraine over it) I just clean things with mild shampoo or hand soap. If something really needs bleached, husband does it and I steer clear of the area the rest of the day. A lot of the time, though we can get away with using other products.

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