My Wife

I registered on Migraine.com on behalf of my wife who has been dealing with this issue for about 12 years. Over the years the number of “triggers” increased. She currently is at the point where she cannot read a single sentence, cannot look at a computer screen or smart phone for two seconds, cannot focus on any type of close work like sewing, cross stitch, etc. and now smells! This is like the last straw for her! The smell issue continues to get worse. Generally speaking it is not “bad” smells, but “good” smells like perfume and cologne. Her sensitivity has become extremely acute. Just walking by a woman wearing perfume and bang! another migraine. The only two activities she can still enjoy is watching TV and going to movies. However, she always has to go to movie theaters on working days, during the day time when only a handful of other people are there. And, even then as she is walking past anyone going or coming she must hold her nose or put on a nose clip. Same thing if we go out to a restaurant ….. never on a Friday night or weekend when they are the busiest and must always try to find a table furthest away from everyone. I have to actually smell the waiter/waitress before they approach our table to insure there is no obvious perfume or cologne. This is driving her crazy.

She is extremely depressed and becoming a recluse. I also fear she is becoming addicted to her strong migraine pills. I have tried to find any information on how a person might be able to temporarily or even permanently deaden the olfactory nerve. Supposedly there are tests being conducted on rats, but use on humans may be many years away. Does anyone have any input on this?

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Comments

View Comments (18)
  • Luvmyfam22
    10 months ago

    Well, you have taken the first best step for your wife that you can…being an advocate for her and helping her with this site. I love migraine.com. It has helped me in so many ways! I use lots of essential oils and I thought the Vicks was a great idea as I am scent sensitive as well, but I plan to us peppermint. Peppermint is also excellent for migraines. If you mix it with Rosemary, Chamomile, or Lavender it can dilute the strong smell if she can tolerate any of those smells. Also, the Theraspecs suggestion is also an excellent one. I invested in a pair when they had a holiday sale and I wear them inside constantly! They make a big difference!

    I am so sorry for what you are both going through and my hats off to you for your support and honor to your wife in her suffering! May you both find help and peace in this painful struggle!

  • doreen.hribar moderator
    10 months ago

    PCIngrid2305, thank you so much for sharing your wife’s story with us. I am sorry to hear how much her sensitivity issues (most especially smell) are taking a toll on both of you. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for both of you to navigate around this. Please know we are here for you both for help and support, and although I do not have a lot of info on deadening the olfactory nerve perhaps others may chime in here.
    We would also wanted to share a few articles that may help pertaining to depression and migraine: https://migraine.com/living-with-migraine/migraine-and-depression/ and https://migraine.com/blog/debunking-misconceptions-about-depression/ we hope you may find them helpful. Warmly,-Doreen (Migraine.com Team)

  • KME1218
    10 months ago

    Thank you for sharing. I recently joined after reading an article connecting migraines and aphasia. I am a stroke survivor with Aphasia. When the person was describing their symptoms, I felt a connection and relief. I have thought for a while that I am experiencing migraine’s but they didn’t feel like what I have heard people describe. I’m learning there are varying types. So happy to have found this site. I also have sensitivity to sounds, smells, lights, even peoples moods and energy. I will be talking to my primary and neurologist.

  • amp254
    10 months ago

    I have tried for years to get a doctor (any doctor) to listen and help me with my issues with smells causing migraines. I had to quit working in 2013 because I was coming home everyday with a migraine due to everyone’s “horrible” smells. The only places I go are to doctor’s appointments and shopping every week or so (unless my husband is able to do it). He has been wonderful through the years even as my condition gets worse and worse. When I do go out I have to air clothing outdoors and take shower immediately to eliminate the smells. The more migraines I have and the more Zomig I take the worse the smell sensitivity gets. (Or so it seems) Wish I could find a cure!

  • extremelyinfj
    10 months ago

    I echo most of the wisdom & empathy that’s shared above …am in a similar boat as your wife -EXCEPT for one essential, critical element: I do NOT have a supportive significant other. I mistakenly believed that I did …he pretty much tossed “us” aside because he married me believing that he somehow had the power to make everything better by marrying me …he quickly grew contemptuous towards me & abusive. His thinking was (and still is) that there is obviously something wrong with me -that I’m a horrible person, because I did not spontaneously “become healed” as the result of his efforts.

    The bottom line = his efforts to help became all about HIM (and my failure to get better = a rejection of him).

    I know this is deeply, heartbreaking, frustrating and exhausting on pretty much every level …just please remember to NOT take ANY of it (your wife’s chronic condition, her symptoms, her flare-ups, her intensely bad moments, her sort-of good moments, etc.) as ANY sort of reflection on YOU or your self esteem or your worth as a human being …her symptoms, her illness, her chronic condition are NOT an attack upon or threat against you or your efforts.

    Hang in there with her …it’s okay (and healthy) to accept that “in this situation, there’s nothing I or she or we can do” …and to simply let her know you’re there, right beside her through ALL of it -even (and especially) if you can’t fix / change it ♥️

    Remember: it’s not you against your wife’s symptoms / illness, it’s you & your wife (“us”) against migraine triggers & migraine symptoms -depersonalize ALL of it -except for the “us” part

    I’d give anything to have an advocate like you in my life.

  • doreen.hribar moderator
    10 months ago

    extremelyinfj, Thank you so much for sharing your story with us as well. I’m sorry to hear about what you have gone through, most especially the lack of support. It truly breaks my heart to hear. We certainly appreciate you chiming in and sharing your experience and your words of wisdom. Warmly,-Doreen (Migraine.com Team)

  • BethBlue
    10 months ago

    How wonderful that you cared enough to reach out to this community for help. I understand the anguish that your wife is experiencing because I feel it too. Smells bother me, almost as much as noise. I allow myself one precious day a week to go out, and it is inevitably ruined by an overly-fragranced shopper or her obnoxious, tantrum-throwing child. We can’t change others, so we end up having to change ourselves — and it isn’t pretty. It pervades our homes too, like the idiot neighbor who insists on using his wood-burning fireplace but forgetting to have the chimney cleaned (ugh, you could choke from the smell!), or the teenager whose boyfriend visits with his car that just happens to lack an exhaust system (because it sounds COOL that way). My husband used to say I complained too much until he had a Super Bowl party. One of the guys let his girlfriend crash, and she was bathed in perfume. When I emerged from my self-induced exile after the game, I almost choked from the smell, I got sick, and I raised hell. He finally got it — FINALLY. So to you, dear Husband, I can only say that it takes patience, the willingness to listen, and the ability to occasionally go out and do battle when there are forces invading your wife’s haven. That’s a difficult one, but she’s simply asking for a little bit of peace. Try to get it for her.

  • extremelyinfj
    10 months ago

    THIS!!! …a gazillion times THIS!!!

  • kwright1988
    10 months ago

    I’m sorry to hear that your wife is in such pain! Her story is very similar to mine. I have been off work for 14 months with daily migraine, main triggers being screens and scents. Please, try an occupational therapist if you can. This is not “work related” therapy as it sounds, but basically task-based therapy. The OT desensitizes you to your triggers very slowly by exposure. My OT has got me from 1-3 low-pain hours/day to 3-week low pain periods. I still have blackout migraines, but usually just 1-3 times a month now, instead of 3-4 blackout migraines a week. Best of luck to you and your wife.

  • sahndie
    10 months ago

    That sucks so much for her. I have olfactory sensitivity sometimes, but it’s usually just when I’m already in a more sensitive state. However, there is no time when I think of perfume or cologne as a “good” smell. I’d like to plug a non-ionizing HEPA filter for home use, as it can get rid of VOCs and other scents from the air as well as remove dust and allergens (which, even if mild, can add up to a more triggering state).
    If I’m feel light sensitive (might be the computer or smart phone issue), I’ll wear regular sunglasses and that can help. Yellow-tinted computer glasses might help also, but a specialist is definitely the best person to consult.

  • BobbieK
    10 months ago

    Try Theraspecks for light problems. Just search the name. For indoors and outdoors light. I have the. Over the glasses ones. They are great and so is the company. Huge chooses.

  • Debbers
    10 months ago

    i dont know how your wife feels about vicks vaporub (or knock off brands) but i find it does a great job blocking fragrances. i just put a bit on the inner edge of each nostril. i never leave the house without it.

  • Ginalcb
    10 months ago

    Very interesting about the vicks rub!!! I will have to try that.

  • Ginalcb
    10 months ago

    I totally understand depression and wanting to stay home. Home is where you are safe and free from smells, noise, weather etc. I’m always afraid to be out and have something trigger a migraine and fearing not getting it under control. A lot of smells and sounds can trigger a migraine. I also have sensitivity to light during a migraine. I don’t know much about the olfactory study but I have tried and been willing to try new things that are suggested. I do find that certain oils have helped such as peppermint oil for nausea and calming effect as well. I thought the smell of peppermint would drive me over the edge but it sure has been good for me, very calming. I think we all learn living with migraines is a lot of trial and error. What works for some may not work for others but it’s great to see others suggestions and helpful hints. I’m sure your wife is doing the best she can with the cards that were dealt. It is wonderful to have a good support such as a spouse as I’am lucky with my husband who is patient and helpful when I’am at my worst.

  • Luna
    10 months ago

    Just my thoughts. Yes, I have to live in a scent free environment. Most things I buy has to “air out” on the enclosed porch before being brought into the house. I rarely go to social gatherings but go shopping once a week. Upon returning home my outer clothes have to hang on the front porch to air out for 2-3 days. Also, have to put my hair in a hat to keep it from soaking up scents. I am a recluse because I want some kind of life without being incapacitated even though that life is restricted. If I want to go somewhere I decide whether or not the outing is worth the price on my body. For myself not smelling the “scent” does not stop the trigger because smells enter the body via the skin and eyes besides the nose and mouth. For me it is a chemical reaction in the brain that is triggered and usually results in pro-drome symptoms with the attack later. Paper money is very fragrant and takes several hours to get that scent off my hands.

  • Ronan
    10 months ago

    Hang in there and get some help for your wife. When was the last time she had an appointment with a headache specialist? May be time to book one.

    I understand how frusturating it for her. And for you, as someone who obviously loves her so much. One thing I recently discovered is to put all my electronics on night view. I did a search for blue light blockers for my computer and ipad. You can find this in search. At least that may help with that issue.

    Unfortunately I don’t think you can deaden the olfactory nerve but I hope others here will chime in to give you some suggestions on how to deal with that issue. You may want to ask doctor about therapy for the depression part. Contant pain and always having to be on alert for triggers is tiring.

    One last thing. Thank you for signing up. You are a great person. Look in the Caretakers’ Forum to get some support for yourself. What affects her does affect you. And as exixabetter as said, Bless You Both.

  • elixabetta
    10 months ago

    Bless you both! I have very similar sensory issues. I am on topamax currently which my doc thinks will hopefully not only calm down my migraines but my sensitivity to everything – light sound and smell. Perfume and cologne is the worst. Everything in my home is unscented. Has she had her eyes and hearing checked? Sometimes one sence will become stronger to over compensate. There has to be an answer to this. I’m sitting in my own living room with sun glasses on and ear plugs.

  • BobbieK
    10 months ago

    Don’t wear reg sunwglasses inside. Not good. Contact Theraspecks you’ll be amazed. They are great.

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