Can Strong Odors Trigger Chronic Migraine Headaches?

Strong Odors, chiropractor for migraine

Believe it not, many patients who come to a chiropractor for migraine suffer from a crippling episode because of certain odors. Studies explain that this develops because 95 percent of migraineurs have osmophobia or sensitivity to scents. But how exactly can certain smells trigger symptoms like headaches, vertigo, nausea, and extreme fatigue? Check out the discussion below for more information on chronic migraines and sensitivity to scents.


Strong Odors and Migraines – What’s The Connection? 

Many people who seek a  chiropractor for migraine experience sensitivity to scents like perfume, cigarette smoke, gasoline, asphalt, nail polish, and bleach. According to studies, this problem can stem from a physiological, psychological, or sometimes a combination of both factors. 

Some migraineurs also appear to smell a faint scent of objects around them that others can’t seem to defect. Researchers refer to this as olfactory hallucinations, a psychological problem that causes people to smell things like burnt wood, gas, rotten meat, smoke, metallic, and sulfur.

To date, researchers have yet to uncover the connection between scents and migraines. But, it appears that it’s a common problem that comes hand in hand with other sensory issues like photophobia and phonophobia. 

If you notice specific sensory sensitivities, we highly recommend avoiding them so you can better cope with your migraine symptoms. It would be best to be extra mindful of other migraine triggers. 


What are the Other Migraine Triggers?

If you interview patients seeing a chiropractor for migraine on their triggers, you will most likely come across varying responses. Some might say they experience worse symptoms due to stress and poor sleep. On the one hand, others only notice severe reactions because of migraine triggers such as abnormal caffeine intake, barometric pressure changes, and excessive consumption of food additives (MSG, aspartame, etc.). Let’s take a closer look at these triggers:


According to a 2017 study, as many as 80 percent of migraineurs believe stress is the leading trigger of their attacks. Some of the usual sources of stress include financial problems, relationship problems, the death of loved ones, and unemployment. However, others note other stressors like getting stuck in a traffic jam and failing to complete work tasks. 

It’s a good idea to identify what makes you feel anxious and stressed out. Then, try to assess whether your stressor has a connection with your worsening migraine episodes. 

Lack of sleep 

Insufficient sleep can lead to worse migraine attacks because it lowers your pain sensitivity threshold. It can also impact your mood and make you more prone to blood pressure fluctuations. If you’re a migraineur, you will most likely find it helpful to prevent or manage sleeping problems like insomnia, jaw clenching at night, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. Working on your sleep hygiene might also prove beneficial, especially in curbing your attacks.    

Dehydration or starvation

When you don’t eat or drink enough, you should expect to see a few changes to some physiological process in your body. For example, you might experience a significant drop in your blood sugar levels. You might also have a minimal amount of fluids flowing into your brain. Either way, you should expect the onset of worse migraine symptoms. 

Medication overuse

Some pain relievers work wonders for headache and migraine relief. That’s why some people develop a solid dependency on them. Unfortunately, this leads to rebound headaches, which recurs when you don’t take enough medications. 

Food additives

Artificial sweeteners and food additives can trigger migraines. According to studies, excessive consumption of these ingredients can increase swelling in the blood vessels. When this happens, especially in the head or neck region, you become prone to experiencing migraines. 

Caffeine intake

Caffeine is one of the primary ingredients of headache and migraine medications. That’s because this plant-based chemical can help lessen the pressure inside the head by regulating the size of the blood vessels. However, if you take in too much or too little, the blood vessels can keep changing sizes and create an abnormal flow of fluids, oxygen, and nutrients to your brain.   

Strong Odors, chiropractor for migraine







Alcohol is a well-known diuretic, so you can potentially suffer from dehydration if you consume too much of it. It would be best to limit your intake of alcoholic beverages each day to prevent your symptoms from overtaking your usual routine. 

Food allergies 

Inflammation is the last body reaction you want to trigger when you have migraines. That’s because it will only increase cranial pressure and cause worse throbbing pain. As a result, migraineurs often avoid or limit their consumption of food products that trigger their attacks. Some examples of this include the following: 

  • Deli meats
  • Aged cheeses
  • Gluten-rich products
  • Citrus-rich fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Yeast
  • Nuts and seeds

Weather and air pressure changes

Air pressure, temperature, and humidity changes can cause varying effects on the body. Unfortunately, these could potentially worsen existing problems like migraines. If you notice that weather changes affect your migraine symptoms, we suggest changing your schedule or routine to avoid exposure to potential triggers. 

Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle

Did you know that women suffer worse migraine headaches than males? Studies blame estrogen, a hormone that increases and decreases in levels throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. Additionally, fluctuations in estrogen levels can also occur when a woman enters the pre-menopausal stage or uses birth control products. 

Physical overexertion and neck trauma

Physical overexertion can impact your neck structure – a highly sensitive part of the body that encases essential nervous system organs like the spinal cord and brainstem. Should anything happen to your cervical spine’s structural integrity, you become at risk of developing neurological problems such as migraine attacks. Fortunately, if you suspect having a compromised cervical spine, you can consult with a chiropractor for migraine. You can receive gentle neck bone adjustments and relieve the pressure on your nervous system.


Find a chiropractor for migraine today!

Regardless of what migraine triggers you have, you might find it helpful to seek a chiropractor for migraine. Thousands of patients tap into this option because migraines share a strong link to postural imbalances. If you can correct the problem with your C1 and C2 bones, you can remove the undue pressure on your brainstem and gradually get rid of your symptoms. 

Would you like to explore upper cervical chiropractic for migraine relief? Check out our list of practicing upper cervical doctors in the country today!


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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.