Odors and triggers…

I have read all the problems people have with fragrances and Migraines and have always had problems with odors myself. Even having to leave school when the cafeteria was cooking and serving certain foods. I guess I am a real Southern Belle. I could never ask someone to refrain from their favorite things to accommodate me. I have found ways to avoid the things that bother me. I will avoid situations, when I can, that will trigger a Migraine, but that doesn’t always work. I will find a fragrance I can tolerate and put some on a handkerchief to hold at my nose occasionally to counteract the scent that offends me. I stay close to a window or door and will walk outside occasionally to clear my nose with some cool fresh air. I will also take a few of my feverfew in advance when I know I will be in a situation that might be a potential trigger.

After suffering from Migraines all of my life (since I was a baby) I have researched and tried every thing known to man and woman to relieve the pain. Birth control pills and hormone imbalance are just about the number one thing that will make them worse. I use aromatherapy as often as I can to relax and there are some aromatherapy scents that do help my Migraine once it has started. Thankfully my triggers are not associated with most of the wonderful fragrances of Christmas. My home is filled with these scents at Christmas and none of my family has ever mentioned a trigger to these scents. They do have problems with almost the same scents I have problems with.

I have family members, 2 daughters, 3 granddaughters, a son and two grandsons that all have severe Migraines and none of them have the problem with Christmas scents. However, I cannot tolerate cheap perfumes, such as 90% of Avon fragrances or imitations of good perfume. There are even a few of the more expensive ones I cannot handle, such as Oscar or any heavier ones made with the same scents as this one. Oriental scents are best for me and lighter florals. My mother had Migraines and my husband had them when he was younger, but “outgrew” them. So as you can see my children have a double whammy. My third daughter has migraines associated with brain injury. She was in an accident at age 18 and was in a natural coma for 2 months.

I guess my biggest trigger is milk chocolate and the Barometric pressure. Another trigger… and most people never pay attention to it…is either too much or too little sleep. Sleep patterns have a lot to do with Migraine. My Neurologist advised me many years ago to get at least 6 hours sleep every night, but never more than 8 and to try to make sure at least 4 were deep sleep. Too many people will burn the midnight oils, as I did, when they are younger and have a family. I would stay up after I got everyone to bed to clean, sew, fold laundry, iron, read and sometimes just to try to unwind after a stressful day. Being the mother of 4 very active children, we were always called on to chaperone trips and such and of course I would be so wound up I wouldn’t get any sleep for the first 24 hours and I would be so tired by the second night I would be ready to collapse from lack of sleep, but that would always be the night I would be assigned to stay up and sit in the hall to make sure the kids were all in their rooms and asleep.

By the time we would get home I would be heading into a 3 day Migraine with the throwing up and all that goes with it. I did not find out until I was 50 that I have Lupus and that was only after having had a stroke and finding out my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Lupus as well. Her doctor told her she had Lupus after extensive testing to try and find a reason for all her problems and 2 miscarriages. Her doctor started asking her questions about family and after a few questions about signs and symptoms she said “oh my gosh…that describes my mother”. Migraines are a symptom and part of Lupus. The bottom line is that everyone has different triggers and everyone has similar triggers.

You just have to figure out what yours are and the best way is to journal every day in a small notebook to try and find a pattern. That may sound like too much trouble for some, but I assure you it is worth the few minutes it takes to note what is going on around you when a Migraine strikes. The foods you have eaten that day and the atmosphere around you. Any stress you have felt. Any changes in your routine, sleep, etc. It will take a little while to finally pin down what your real triggers are instead of grasping at straws and identifying triggers that might not have a thing to do with your migraine.  After 60+ years of them I learned about 20 years ago to successfully and positively identify mine.

After seeing way too many doctors, being put through way too many diagnostic test with no success, being taken to the ER, even by ambulance at times, being given every new drug for Migraines on the market, being stuck, poked and prodded, passing out from them, being put to sleep with heavy drugs to alleviate the pain, etc., etc., etc., I started trying natural remedies. I tired everything I was told about with minimal success until I read the article on Feverfew in a weekly Sunday paper magazine. The studies in Europe were conclusive that Feverfew was a remedy for the majority of Migraines sufferers….so after tracking down a store that carried it…I tried it. It worked for me. I take it daily and then if I have breakthrough…from a trigger that is especially strong…I can take a few with a couple of Excedrin Migraine, drink a little Coca-Cola and within 30 – 45 minutes after taking them, closing my eyes and getting still…it is gone. Rather than the 3 days it used to take to get over one I am up and going again in a matter of minutes.

I have suffered unnecessarily for most all of my life and am now suffering effects from other prescription drugs taken for years for chronic Acid Reflux disease and other problems. I refuse to be given a prescription drug anymore with side effects that could be potentially serious. There are too many natural remedies out there to have to suffer and cut life short by taking harmful drugs that drug companies get rich on and doctors get kick backs to prescribe without looking carefully at the damage they do. The damage to my body has been done and while most of it is irreversible, there are a few things I can do to repair some of the damage and I am doing as much as I can. In the meantime there will be no more prescription drugs for me with any potentially serious side effects.

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.

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