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Your Experience with Migraine and Heightened Sensitivity

Your Experience with Migraine and Heightened Sensitivity

We recently shared an article with you in the migraine community that talked about the potential link between sensory processing sensitivity and migraine. This can otherwise be translated to being a highly sensitive person (HSP), both during and in between migraine attacks. So many of you sounded off on your experiences with heightened sensitivity, that we wanted to share some of your stories!

Heightened Senses

“Sounds and smells are magnified unbearably”

“I have been told I am a ‘super-taster’ because I can taste subtle flavors…should have been a wine and chocolate taster—OH WAIT—they trigger migraines

“My hubby tells me that I have an insane sense of smell at times. There are times that I swear that meat or chicken is bad and he smells no odor at all. I can also smell when someone is cooking bacon blocks away from our house!”

“The other day shaving my legs felt like sharp razor blades for hours later. The breeze blowing my hair on my skin drives me nuts sometimes too, ugh!!”

“I also can’t deal with the radio and most music. I definitely feel overwhelmed by the moods of others…I seem to take on everyone’s emotions.”

“Sound is my worst sensitivity. Once I’ve tuned into an annoying noise, I get extremely agitated.”

“Oh yes, I can smell cigarettes, garbage, perfume, etc. a mile away!”

The Battle with the Sun

“I am so glad that my sensitivities are the norm for people with migraine. I live in Hawaii so I’m bombarded with bright sunny days and bright cloudy days! My prescription sunglasses are what I wear 90% of the time, sometimes even indoors!”

“I have a pair of prescription sunglasses that make all the difference plus earbuds to drown out the noise—makes all the difference! And sometimes I have to just ‘check out’ and spend some time alone!”

“True. Loud noises or simply the sun can set mine off, so I wear a good pair of sunglasses anytime I venture outside during sun up and sun down”

Avoiding Situations and People

“Very interesting. Just last week, I commented to my therapist that I often think I’d be content in a padded room or solitary confinement. This may explain why”

“This is something that is hard to explain to people. They just don’t get it

“Definitely. Wish the scents in public bathrooms would be outlawed. Why do people bathe in their perfume and cologne?”

“We also go out of our way to avoid SMELLS in the public! To the point of looking ridiculous!!”

“I miss out a lot because I must avoid places with bright overhead lights, scented products, loud noise, stressful people and situations”

Feeling Relief that You Are Not Alone

“WOW! This describes me! I was diagnosed for the first time about a month ago with migraines. I’m still learning…like the fact that some days just a cross look can make me cry.

“Nice to know I’m not alone!”

“It’s nice to know it’s a real thing—makes me feel a little less crazy”

“What always had me perplexed was having some sort of symptoms every day. At least I don’t feel crazy anymore”

Let us know if you feel like your experience with migraine has led to difficulties with your sensory processing or makes your senses feel heightened, or even unbearable. How do you deal with these feelings when they become a challenge to your daily routine?


  • tlocker
    3 years ago

    The heightened sense of smell is constant for me – for better or worse (flowers vs diesel). The genetic link is clear: my maternal grandmother who had migraines with a similar patters also has an incredible sense of smell. I can’t walk down the laundry aisle in stores; and homes with gel packs and candles are a torture. Light and sound torture me only during a migraine. My poor husband has to tiptoe around,not cook, use headphone for media.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi tlocker! I empathize. While scent is not a trigger for me, when I have a migraine scent is amplified and can throw me into a spin.

    I’d like to extend an invitation to your husband to visit our caregivers forum.

    Thanks for being part of the community! -All Best, Donna ( team)

  • Judy H
    3 years ago

    I have a migraine that began early yesterday. I experienced all of the hyper-sensitivities that I usually get, perfume, light, etc. Halfway through the day, I had a new one (for me) – all of the sudden I had intense dry mouth and felt like I could not get enough water to drink. I’ve had migraines more than 40 years and this is the first time I ever got that sensation. For about a week before the migraine hit, water tasted “off”…
    Other weird things that my (usually very supportive husband) just doesn’t quite get are the following:
    He likes to drive with the back windows down 1/2way while the front windows are closed. It makes me crazy because my ears magnify the sound and it feels like there is something flapping loudly in my outer ears. I don’t think he believes me because he feigns being annoyed that he has to roll the back windows up and open the front ones. Each time I ask him to put the back windows up, he says “Really?” (This sensation occurs with or w/o a migraine.)
    Another thing that makes me crazy that I have never seen listed as bothersome to migraineurs is this: while watching TV or a movie and the camera revolves around a person or object, encircling them one or more times. (I think that once film directors discovered this technique, they use it excessively.) It makes me dizzy & sometimes nauseated to watch it. Sometimes I just have to abandon a program.

  • Jani8
    3 years ago

    I still have a problem with the odors of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches because every time it was the school lunch I had a migraine. And that was in the dark ages, many moons ago!

  • Jess
    3 years ago

    I’ve been known to change outfits 5 times bc it didn’t feel right and my sense of taste definitely magnified. Sometimes for the better but not always. If something tastes “off”, that’s it, appetite is gone and nausea increases.

  • Lisa A
    3 years ago

    Being hypersensitive in this over stimulated world is exhausting to say the least. I feel like I must always be prepared wherever I go. Stepping into nature depending where and what the weather is like dictates how long I can remain as well as indoor venues like stores, restaurants, people’s homes etc. it can be nerve wracking and intimidating. Haven’t flown in years since I went chronic and I need to get to my son’s college graduation next year!! I have learned “tricks of the trade” like carrying Vicks or peppermint oil and earplugs and sunglasses and hats etc but still. Really? So challenging. Ugh!!

  • chatnoir
    3 years ago

    Exactly! I also have supersenses (especially with food – most people distinguish bewteen salty or sweet, but there are so many flavours in a simple bar of chocolate!) to the extent that it sometimes gets pretty uncomfortable. Sometimes I can swear my clothing is making me itch, although normally I’m perfectly fine with it. And from the perspective of the visual stimulation, I often have a hard time with patterns. I can get easily dizzy while looking at them, even without concentrating much. The other day, I was wearing a skirt with horizontal lines and just a brief look on my legs made my instantly dizzy. Weird!

  • arden
    3 years ago

    I had to secretly throw out my husband’s favorite striped tee because looking at him in it made me ill. Busy patterns are deadly. Also any flashing lights that I pass on the road must be shunned. Hermit life sounds pretty good after 60 years of sensory bombardment!

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