When I often tell people that fragrances can give me migraine headaches, they say something about allergy issues. Most people do not understand that a migraine headache is a neurological disorder and can be triggered by fragrances.
I get migraines because my brain easily gets over stimulated. It’s this stimulation that tells my brain to increase production of certain chemicals. These chemicals can cause other reactions to happen which can result in nausea, throbbing pain, blood vessels dilating and constricting, difficulty concentrating, and a range of other unpleasant side effects.
The best way for me to manage my headaches is to avoid my triggers, keeping the stimulation under control. I think of it on a point system. It takes 100 points to get a headache. Not sleeping 7 hours is worth 25 points, eating poorly is worth 25 points, chocolate is worth 10 points, smelling strong perfume is worth 65 points, drinking 2 cups of coffee is worth 15 points, stress can be worth 35 points and so on. If I combine too many triggers in a day I’m done for. And yes, fragrances would be the trigger I assign the most points to.
With certain perfumes/ fragrances all it can take is a whiff of a passerby and my brain starts to tingle. I know I have to be extremely careful the rest of the day or I need to take Excedrin as a preemptive strike. I am in complete control of most of my triggers except fragrances. People close to me avoid fragranced products but all the acquaintances I run into in a day, well that’s a different story. I don’t expect everyone to stop wearing fragrances but I would hope people would keep them a little more to themselves. You should not be smelling them unless you are in their personal space. When they walk past you and leave a scent trail, well that’s a bit much.
Why is my nervous system so sensitive? I suspect genetics has something to do with it but I’m not certain.
There are good resources out there that give more details about the chemicals involved in migraines, here are a few….
A short video that contains animation which shows the biological process of a migraine headache happening and explains which chemicals are involved… http://video.healthination.com/usnews/migraines.html
Magnum – Migraines awareness group detailed article about myths and facts of Migraines… http://www.migraines.org/myth/mythreal.htm
HealthCentral- a website that has lots of good information on migraines…. http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/understanding-migraine-000097_3-145.html