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Sensitivity to smells

  • By Cluster Girl

    She came back into the room and she was NOT happy. I had never told her how the candle bothered me. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. She said, “I was trying to make the house smell nice.” I had the feeling that she doubted that the candle could cause my headache, but it definitely contributed to it.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Cluster Girl,

    Living with headache disorders and diseases like Migraine and Cluster Headache are really a process. If you had food allergies, wouldn’t you try to tell everyone what you could and couldn’t eat? The same goes for our Migraine Disease and Cluster Headaches. We need to inform and educate those around us. How else are they going to know what can act as a trigger? Whenever I’m triggered by something someone has done (blue lights seems to be the culprit of late) they always feel so terribly guilty when they learn something small that they inadvertently did triggered something so disabling and awful as another Migraine or cluster attack. You might try creating and printing out a list of your personal triggers and let your mom see it so she will understand how sensitive you are to your environment now. Truth be told, she probably isn’t going to be happy about all those changes she’ll have to make around you, but reminding her gently that these are changes you will have to make every day no matter where you are, might also be helpful. It takes time for others to get used to our new way of life. It’s like a whole new lifestyle to tell you the truth. Like anything, changes are hard to make, and we often suffer both physically and mentally when we make them. In the end, the payoff is a better life that we can actually enjoy and in which we can be productive despite our attacks. I think most anyone will agree with you that is worth the trouble…

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  • By melissadwyer13

    The smell of my mom’s cigarette when I’m having a full blown attack is insane. I grew up around it so I barely notice it on my good days, but when she comes back in the room from having a cigarette… I almost always vomit instantly or want to. I have a MUCH stronger sense of ALL scents… senses are just in overdrive and that is not a good thing!

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  • By bonkersbgood

    Some fragrances in candles will give me a migraine almost immediately. And cigarette smoke smell is a given! My ex-husband used to fry bologna whenever I had a migraine—all smells were so intensified that I would almost puke from the smells that normally didn’t bother me.

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  • By lisakovach

    Boy Smell is a huge trigger for me, and having a live tree in the house is one of them. I can’t wait to get this tree out of my house.No more live trees for me, I am getting a fake one after the prices come down after Christmas is over. I aslo find candles bother me too. Perfumes as well. I can’t go into that area at the mall at all.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    LISAKOVACH,

    If it is the smell of the tree that is the trigger, you might be okay with an artificial tree. If you are also sensitive to mold and pollens and dust, you may not be much better off with the artificial tree.

    My family also has some really severe allergies to contend with, and this was something we were warned about early on – fake trees seem like they would be better, but they aren’t always any better at all.

    One suggestion we got was to let the tree air out after purchase so some of the chemicals will have a chance to disperse. You can do this by putting the tree up and covering it with a light sheet. This allows air to flow, but no dust to settle on it. For storage, it’s recommended they be stored in a very dry spot, either covered or put back into its box. This helps to decrease the dust and the mold issues.

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  • By Elaine Gross

    I also am very sensitive to odors, and they easily trigger migraines for me. Lately I’ve been having a terrible time with phantom odors. How does one deal with that??? It’s driving me crazy, and ill.

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  • By 44_Maggnum

    You know what I have noticed? That I can smell cherries even though they are not there then bam I know im getting a migraine. And I like cherries 🙁

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  • By Cluster Girl

    Last week in church, during Holy Week, I kept smelling freshly baked cupcakes, although there were none. Our church doesn’t have a kitchen. There is one in our old church, across the street, and then things are brought over. However, during Holy Week, especially Holy Thursday, there would be NO cupcakes. I finally figured it was someone’s perfume. They make perfume that smells like all kinds of things. Normally I REALLY like cupcakes, but my clusters have been coming and going (chronic) and this perfume seemed to be either strong, or poured on, and it was making me sick to my stomach and at the same time was causing my head to pound and pound and my red eye to do the same. Two nights like this in a row. I live in a tourist area, so we’re never guaranteed the same people at each Mass. Lo and behold, the next night the person was back; sitting behind me somewhere. I never get nauseous with my cluster, just from the hydrocodone or aleve on easier days; but this odor had me wanting to (excuse the pun) toss my cookies.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    44_Maggnum – as you’ve probably figured out, this is often part of aura for many patients. I’ve heard of patients smelling bacon, dirt, all kinds of crazy things. Cherries sounds like something – well, if you have to smell something during an aura – that might not be the worst thing. I love cherries too. And, did you know they can act as anti-inflamatories too?!

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  • By deborahvan-der-harst

    I recently became sensitive to just about any strong odor during a migraine. For me, strong food smells are the worst. They remind me of my pregnancy days when I had all day nausea and the smell of fish would have me running to the nearest bathroom. Feeling nauseated and hungry at the same time is frustrating though. I’m hungry but I don’t feel like eating because the smell of food grosses me out.

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  • By pooh2you

    I posted in another area about this, but how do you get a mom to finally realize that her perfume is killing you?? She “bathes” in her perfume and it gives me a migraine whenever I am with her. I have talked to her about it numerous times!! It does the same thing to my daughter. She is nice enough to occasionally remember to not wear it when she is with my daughter, but never around me. I am seriously thinking of getting a t-shirt that says “You may like your perfume, but it is killing me!” Any suggestions?? I love my mom and don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I can’t handle it anymore. I am a chronic migraineur, I do everything I can to limit my exposure to triggers, but and my mom just does not listen!!

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Pooh2you – I’ve written to your other inquiries, but will repeat it here so others who find your question will see my response:

    Sometimes the only way we can convince others that what they’re doing is truly hurting us, is to not let it hurt us anymore. It may take walking into her home, smelling the odor, then immediately leaving in your car to get through to her how harmful it really is to your health.

    Some patients find that carrying a small vial of a more pleasant or cleansing type odor is helpful when they are out and about. Open it and put it under your nose when you need it such as in elevators or other confined areas. Peppermint is often helpful, as can lemon and orange for some patients. You’ll have to figure out what works and what doesn’t, but it is another idea of a way to cope with the problem…

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  • By kimberlyflick

    I finally had a neurologist diagnose me with “osmophobia” after years of knowing this was one of my most certain triggers. Smells kill me. I have to leave rooms and, worst of all, church often. I don’t think people understand what “dab” means. Perfumes linger if they are strong.

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  • By rilniski

    HI all. I’m sensitive to colognes, perfumes, and smoke as well as different fragrances. When I’m in church, I almost always have a piece of peppermint gum in my mouth to mask some of those smells and that helps for the most part. a few weeks ago someone was wearing a strong perfumy oil and it gave me a migraine. It lasted a long time most of the day.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    RILNISKI – Brilliant! I’m glad you’ve found something that is helpful. Another advocate here, our Teri Robert has peppermint oil in a special pendant she wears around her neck, so when in elevators etc and finding these irritating odors, she has some recourse. Peppermint taken orally can sometimes help with nausea too, however in some of us it can also cause reflux.

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  • By tory a

    I too find great relief from peppermint, specifically Japanese Peppermint. It is about 10x more potent than the normal peppermint that can be bought. I remember when I was in college, I had some science labs that had odors that brought on a migraine almost instantly, peppermint saved the day. Vicks can also be used and it is a bit less expensive also.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    tory-a – I’m a Vick’s user too! I purchased some peppermint oil recently and some oil to dilute it, but haven’t yet purchased bottles to put it in, so haven’t tried it yet. Until then… Vicks it is 🙂

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  • By Anonymous

    There are some really great tips here, as well as some stories I can definitely relate to.

    Since I have a severe sensitivity to fragrance or heavy odors, in that they trigger a migraine each and every time, I’m having trouble finding a reputable anti-aging, preventive skincare line.

    Does anyone know of a skincare line that does not have perfume in its formulation? I’m usually okay with “masking fragrance” and natural odors IF they are not heavy. For example, even standing by the Estee Lauder or Lancome counter would trigger a migraine for me.

    Thank you for any tips you have!

    Dawn

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  • By Tim Banish

    Dawn- I like Avon Silicone Glove and Hand Moisturizer. Both sold in tubes and have little smell. Smells trigger migraines for me, especially some of the popular musk types of perfumes. My only defense is to move, get away from it, so when shopping my wife knows if I disappear there is a perfume-bathed person around!

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    dawnsm – I remember this thread and my answer, but I don’t see it right now.

    Neutrogena is my choice. The makeup seems to have only a very mild fragrance, and the other products seem pretty much fragrance free. It has a product called Instant Wrinkle Repair that is extremely good (very highly rated) and doesn’t seem to have any fragrance at all. The daytime version does have sunscreen in it, and that has a unique fragrance all its own, but they seem quite bland. For us Migraineurs, bland is good 🙂

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