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The Toxicity Of Fragrances And How It Impacts Migraine Sufferers Like Me

It’s not usually considered a nuisance to many but I beg to differ on this opinion.

Have you ever walked into a room and was struck by an intensely strong and overpowering scent of someone’s perfume?

And there you are sharing your breathable air with a strongly scented person.

Worse still, it could happen in a lift, a bathroom, or on a bus. Then you’re trapped.

A scent so strong, that even after that person had left the room, their scent remained there for a good minute, until some good ventilation cleared it off.

This has happened to me too many times, much to my disdain.

And while it may just be a moment of discomfort for most, for me, it can be quite debilitating.

Because I am prone to getting migraines, an intense pain that throbs in my right temple and grows over time.

And guess what, strong scents and perfumes are some of my migraine triggers.

My only way of avoiding going into a full-blown migraine attack is to take my painkillers early upon recognizing the onset of a migraine.

Due to my sensitivity to strong smells, I don’t wear perfumes, avoid scented products, and ban laundry softeners at home when I wash clothes.

As for soaps and shampoos, I purchase only those that are mildly scented. Even the wet wipes I purchase for my children are fragrance-free.

These migraine episodes due to strong fragrances are not only caused by people with cologne or perfumes, they can also be triggered by strong odors in shops, restaurants, or vehicles that apply air fresheners and scented cleaning detergents.

I recalled taking a cab home from work one day, and unfortunately for me, the car I was in came with a heavily scented air freshener.

The pain in my right temple started to grow after a few minutes of being intoxicated by the perfumed environment I was in. I held in my headache, and tried to distract myself by looking outside the window.

Once I reached home 25 minutes later, I quickly paid the driver, jumped out of the car, half-jogged through my front gate, and made it inside just in time to throw up next to the entrance of my home.

I then had to lie down for the next few hours until my migraine was cleared.

And then today, I entered a restroom at work and was hit with a wave of perfume so strong, that I had to hold my breath as I walked past the lady who was busy adjusting her hair at the sink.

After she left, her perfume remained lingering in the bathroom, present and strong.

I breathed through my blouse while I used the loo.

So how now?

I can’t go through life bringing around a breathing apparatus whenever I encounter similar situations.

I cope by bringing my painkillers with me wherever I go and making sure I take them at the onset of a migraine episode. That said, I don’t think eating too much of these medications is healthy for my body in the long run. Somehow, I manage due to necessity.

So my request is this.

Be mindful of your scent.

To be more specific, be mindful of the intensity of it.

Be it your perfume, cologne, body odor, scented body washes, and shampoos.

Some people like me may be sensitive to them, although I am a minority.

It may smell nice to you, but it may be a pain for others to bear.

And if you are one of those who suffer migraines and are also repelled by smells attacking your olfactory nerve, I feel you.

Let’s stick together and share coping mechanisms.

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