A migraine is a severe form of headache. It is characterized by pain or pulsing on one side of the head. It may be wrongly labeled as a tension headache but a migraine is a critical case that can last up to 72 hours. In many cases, a migraine develops in stages, the first stage showing up to 2 days before the actual event. It starts from the prodrome, aura, the attack then the postdrome stage. Migraines are often brought on by triggers like strong smells. Common offenders include:
1. Air fresheners
Research has been done into why odors trigger migraines. So far, scientists have come up with possible reasons but have not narrowed them down to a specific one. They keep the house and car smelling nice. However, for migraineurs, a fresh-smelling car could be their personal hell. Such a person might experience the first stage while in the car or it could go to a full-blown migraine by the time they arrive at their destination. It is therefore advised to avoid air fresheners once one realizes that they are triggered by them.
2. Cigarette smoke
This affects many people. In some cases, even smokers themselves do not like the smell of cigarettes. A study was done to explore odors as migraine triggers. It was found that the most common irritant is perfume with cigarette smoke as the third. It is hypothesized that the smoke causes vessels to swell thereby stimulating the part of the brain associated with head pain. It is easier to avoid the smell of cigarettes than it is to trigger odors.
3. Perfume and cologne
Everyone gets a little headache every time they encounter a person who smells like they bathed in a bottle of perfume and cologne. However, for migraineurs, it does not take that much. It only takes a whiff of a strong scent to develop early signs of a migraine. This is more difficult to avoid as one would have to walk around in a bubble to avoid strong-smelling people on the street.
4. Cleaning chemicals
Cleaning chemicals are the second most common migraine trigger odor, according to research. The substances used to make these products may give one some allergic reaction upon smelling. This would then lead to a migraine. To avoid this might be easy as they may choose to simply clean with mild materials. It gets harder when they visit people or buildings cleaning with very strong smelling stuff.
5. Food odors
Not too many migraines are triggered by the smell of food. This is more common in pregnancies. However, some do find the smell of some foods pungent and offending. An example is the smell of frying onions. It can be quite strong. Food odors may also work to hasten the process of developing a migraine. One would be in the aura stage one minute then quickly move to an attack upon smelling fresh-baked pizza.
In many cases, scented candles are used to clear an offensive smell from a room. They may be used to keep the air in a room fresh. However, for some people, the smell of a scented candle can send them deep into the abyss of a throbbing migraine.
More than 90% of people who suffer migraines are triggered by scents. For this reason, companies have taken it upon themselves to develop mild and unscented products. However, with the smell of food, one would have to work that out on their own. Migraines can be managed with medication, thankfully.