Migraine sufferers have a heightened awareness to strong odours. “Migraine patients are far more sensitive to perfumes than other people who don’t have migraines,” says Dr. Christine Lay, director of the Centre of Headache at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “They walk into the department store perfume aisle and end up with a terrible headache. We don’t understand if it’s the odour affecting the lining of the nose, but we definitely know that [strong scents] are a trigger.”
The fix: Lay recommends minimizing your exposure to strong odours. “Some perfumes you might tolerate really well while others can be awful,” she says. To find out if certain smells are headache inducing, skip all fragrances for a month. Try unscented deodorant, hair products, soap and laundry detergent, and give air fresheners in your home a miss. If your headaches lessen, or vanish, you can try reintroducing certain scents and see how well you tolerate them.