Is it normal for light & sound sensitivity outside of an attack?

Is it normal or at least possible to be constantly extra sensitive to noise and bright light, especially artificial light (natural sunlight isn’t as bad), even when I’m not in the middle of a migraine attack? I know loud noises and higher pitches, is a major trigger for me. I don’t think light is a trigger but during an attack bright light makes things so much worse. But even when I otherwise feel fine, I feel extra sensitive to noise, and artificial fluorescent light. BTW I am going to ask the neurologist the same thing.


Community Answers
  • k_nelson
    1 year ago

    I definitely find myself having a sensitivity to light and noises outside of attacks. For me, I try to always have sunglasses on hand and make sure to try and stay away from very noisy scenarios.

  • Amanda Workman moderator
    1 year ago

    I do believe that some of us are just sensitive regardless. According to my mom, I never liked loud sounds or bright lights as a baby or a child, which was prior to my migraines. Even today if I do not have a migraine, I still do not enjoy loud noises or bright lights. I always have sunglasses. My husband had custom made ear plugs done for me at a gun convention and I always carry those in my purse. I would not find it unusual to still be sensitive without the migraine.
    – Amanda Workman (migraine.com moderator and contributor)

  • tgerard127 author
    1 year ago

    Thank you for your answers! I don’t think all light is a trigger for me. I do feel sensitive to light when I’m having a migraine attack, but I’m actually not as bad in natural sunlight than I am with artificial fluorescent lights indoors. We have only LED lights at home since my wife has her own neurological issues and has problems with compact fluorescent (seeing the neurologist is practically a family outing, I’ve been tempted to bring a picnic).

    I do feel sensitive to sound basically all the time, especially higher pitches. I have trouble when people with higher pitched voices talk loud, small dogs barking (large dogs aren’t as bad), the TV at too high a volume, etc. I even feel overwhelmed when several people are talking all at once, especially when the volume starts going up. At least a few times a week at work I have to ask people to “please stop screaming”. And that’s all when I’m not having a migraine attack. It’s so much worse when I am.

  • Tamara
    1 year ago

    Light can be a migraine trigger as well …. sun glare and flashes for me will cause a migraine if I happen to be feeling good. Camera flashes are the worst.

    So yes, you can be sensitive to them between attacks. Might be worthwhile keeping a journal of when you felt they bothered you and see if you end up with a migraine the next day or two – may be helpful.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi there, Thanks so much for your question. If this is a new or worsening symptom definitely a good idea to discuss with your Neuro as you already mentioned you would be doing! 🙂 That being said, many people who live with migraine do experience higher than normal levels of photophobia between migraine attacks.” You can read more about it here in “Facts About Photophobia and Migraine”. Additionally, this article “Turn it down!” reviews data to show that phonophobia (sensitivity to sound) is also present between attacks. Hope this helps to put your mind at ease a bit, but do remember to share these symptoms with your doctor.

    Take good care & always feel free to reach out!
    Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

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