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What's That Smell? Managing Your Migraine Scent Triggers

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Feb 18, 2014 7:00:00 AM
Scent triggers are among the most curious aspects of the migraine condition. Certain odors, aromas and scents can induce migraines in some patients, and the same goes for bright or intermittent lights, hormonal fluctuations, foods, beverages, noises, and more. Of all migraine triggers, scents tend to be the most talked about since they can often be pervasive and difficulty to manage.migraine scent triggers

Smell is one of the most powerful human senses. Although the precise mechanism of how certain fragrances trigger migraine episodes is not entirely known, allergies and general irritation are thought to have a negative effect on circulation. Even people who do not suffer from migraine conditions can get mild onset headaches when exposed to noxious fumes. This is because sensitive blood vessels located in the inner lining of the nasal tissue tend to react to each scent and may exert pressure on the nerve endings that surround them.

Understanding Scent Triggers

The physiological explanation of scent triggers above does not apply to all migraine patients. They are part
of the aura that many patients experience before a painful migraine episode. There seems to be no uniformity as to the types of scents that can be considered triggers; in fact, in some cases the aromas perceived are actually olfactory hallucinations. What is known, however, is that sudden and intense scents can be triggers for migraine patients.

In general, migraine patients are far more likely to experience scent triggers in indoor spaces. A migraine sufferer in Manhattan, for example, may not be affected by the smell of pizza coming out of the many ovens in the city; baking pizza at home, however, might turn into a scent trigger.

Scent Trigger Management for Migraine Patients

It is not too difficult for migraine patients to manage scent triggers at home, and they don't really have to worry too much about them when they are outdoors. At work and in social situations, however, scent triggers become more difficult to manage.

Migraine patients who are affected by scent triggers will more than likely not seek employment at places such as paint factories or auto assembly lines. If their workspace is a small office, they can find easier ways to manage scent triggers. One way to manage scent triggers at work is to talk to the boss or to a manager and explaining that migraine episodes may result in diminished productivity and sick days, and thus it would be in their best interest to provide a workplace that is free from certain scents. A superior at work can either disseminate the information or hold a meeting between coworkers to make them aware of the issue.

Managing scent triggers at home should not be a problem, but it is nearly impossible in the homes of those who are not close relatives. To this effect, holiday gatherings can be a bit complicated. The only way to approach others and ask them to not use a certain perfume or cook a certain food is to do it with lots of honesty and heartfelt respect.

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Topics: Migraine

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