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Do Overpowering Smells Trigger Migraines?

Antique perfume spritzersHave you ever stepped into an elevator that was recently occupied by a man drenched in cologne?  The lingering smell of cologne that assaults the nostrils is nauseating.  While we may appreciate the man’s efforts to maintain good hygiene, his inability to gauge the proper amount of cologne needed, has left all those in his wake with pounding headaches.  Has this scenario happened to you?  Do overpowering fumes cause you to suffer migraines?

It is well known that light sensitivity can trigger migraines, but smell sensitivities are equally strong migraine triggers.  In a 2007 study conducted in the United Kingdom, the results showed smell sensitivity as a large contributing factor for people’s migraines.  Of the 1,000 patients that participated in the study, 400 reported smell as the source of a migraine attack. (Doherty, MD 2013) Out of this smell sensitivity group, 64% stated the smells that bothered those most were overpowering perfume and cologne scents, followed closely by food and cigarette smoke at 55 percent.

It is often hard to confront strangers or coworkers to let them know their ritual of bathing in perfume and cologne is making you physically sick.  It is a touchy subject to tell someone they stink especially when they are making such an effort to smell pleasant.  If you can address the subject in a non-confrontational manner than by all means do it.

If you do not feel comfortable there are luckily disinfectant products on the market that also neutralize odors and eliminate odors.  The ones that work best contain chlorine dioxide.  Chlorine dioxide is a powerful odor neutralizer and emits very little volatile organic compounds back into the environment.  Instead of suffering another migraine or causing ill relations between a coworker you can instead just spray the room with the odor neutralizer to alleviate the smell.  Who knows, maybe your coworker will get the hint.


Doherty, MD, Colleen. “I Smell a Migraine.”, April 06, 2013. (accessed February 23, 2014).

By | 2016-10-17T21:10:25+00:00 February 23rd, 2014|Disinfectant Cleaners|0 Comments

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