Smells Cause Migraine

Be careful with certain smells, if you regularly suffer headaches. More than 50% of those suffering from migraines are very sensitive to certain smells, as researchers have found out.


Scientists from the University of Liverpool have found that smells of certain foods and household goods may cause a migraine attack. For example, headaches (and not only tears) can be caused by onions and fatty foods.

People with severe headaches and dizziness often display marked sensitivity to light. It is caused by changes in the natural brain chemicals that trigger the attack. In most cases (75.9%, according to researchers) these triggers are undetectable. Among the possible causes of a migraine attack are increased stress levels, changes in hormone levels, weather changes, sleep disorders, diet, as well as flashing light. More than 50 % of migraine patients are sensitive to certain smells. This condition is called osmophobia – pathological aversion to certain smells.

Especially often osmophobia is observed in women suffering from migraines, since 70% report that the attack begins in just a few minutes after the exposure to a particular smell. Thus, a 32-year-old lady under study had a migraine attack because of the smell of raw onion and garlic.

Smells can influence the trigeminal nerve that causes inflammation. They also induce the blood vessels contraction. Among other “dangerous” smells are perfume, sprays, air fresheners, fried foods, cigarette smoke and cleaners.

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