Of all the potential triggers for migraines, perhaps the most difficult to control are the ones involving aromas. Fragrant products are, in fact, frequent triggers for headaches, especially migraines.
Unfortunately, it seems almost impossible to escape perfumes, colognes and any other of the million products that are enhanced with fragrances nowadays. Further making the situation worse is the fact that fragrances are encountered ever more increasingly in the workplace, as well other places where escape is akin to making your way off Alcatraz.
Fragrances have by now made their way into practically every industry and business on the planet. They are used in just about every cleaning, laundry, and personal-care product known to man, so think you just have to escape women wearing too much perfume or men doused in cologne.
People are quick to recognize the dangers of smoke and take steps to make accommodations, yet there remains a lack of awareness concerning the potential adverse health impact from the permeation of fragrances, whether pleasant or not. Indeed, it has yet to be recognized that the widespread use of fragrant products effects air quality and health just as much as secondhand smoke and other forms of pollution.
Aromatherapy is used by many, including those suffering migraines to alter ones mood, provide relaxation and stimulation and various other studies chemicals found in the essential oils used in aromatherapy lend credence to the existing pharmacological basis behind aromatherapy.
Perfumes and colognes currently being manufactured contain synthetic versions of the aromatic chemicals found in nature. The source may be different, but the song remains the same. The olfactory system is a busy highway when it comes to things affecting the brain and nervous system, whether by trigeminal stimulation, or absorption into the blood stream via the lungs.
Migraine headaches are typically caused by changes in blood flow to the vessels in the head. Some of the materials that are commonly found in fragrances possess the ability to alter blood flow in the brain. Several studies strongly support the idea that fragrances can have a direct effect on cerebral circulation as well as have neurological effects. In addition, the anecdotal evidence suggests a significant effect of fragrances on the central nervous system.
If you suffer from migraines, the following are among those may be adversely affecting your condition:
- scented deodorant or antiperspirant
- scented lotion, sunscreen or tanning cream for face, hands, or body (many lotions, especially sunscreens, have fragrance even when not labeled as being scented)
- aftershave or richly scented shaving lotion
- fragrance-enhanced bar or liquid soaps, including Dove, Ivory, Dial, soft-soap
- commercially fragrant shampoo or conditioner, hair spray, gel, mousse or other leave-in hair products
- essential oils
- any perfume, cologne or fragrance
- aromatherapy products
- laundry detergent with phosphates, chlorine bleach, and/or added scent
- scented fabric softener sheets (for example, Bounce) or liquid fabric softener
- recently dry cleaned items (remove plastic wrapping and air outdoors before use)
- cigarette, incense (unlit or burned), or other smoke
- air freshener sprays or solids, potpourri, scented candles
If you suffer from migraines and discovered that your trigger is fragrance-related, you can expect to face quite a bit of difficulty in your life. Compounding the problem is that even brief exposure to the fragrance can be enough to trigger a headache.
With so many products on the market saturated with fragrance-producing chemicals, its an uphill battle getting away from any one particular. It certainly helps to identify the particular fragrance that triggers your migraine, but unfortunately many for whom smells are a trigger find that its not just one in particular that does the trick.
Sometimes it is smell and aromas in general that cause the headaches. In addition, the problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the onset of the headache can vary from a few minutes of exposure to hours after. There is an unquestioned need to raise awareness about the impact of fragrances on development of migraines.