Toxic cigarettes migraine trigger number one - does my headline give it away? Does smoking or second hand smoke trigger a migraine attack for you? It sure triggers mine. Every. Single. Time.
I can smell smoke a block away and it lingers for days in my hair and clothes when we go out.
Thank goodness so many places are becoming smoke free environments now... do you check that before you go somewhere new?
Now... you know that cigarettes are toxic. Right?
They have all kinds of chemicals in them including rat urine. There is fiberglass in the filters, and over 600 other ingredients that turn into 7,000 chemicals when they are lit.
Lung.org lists a few of the 600, and these two caught my eye: formaldehyde which is used in embalming fluid and arsenic, used in rat poison.
I have not yet figured out how to stop second hand smoke from cigarettes other than walk away. Far away. I can smell it inside my home when a smoker walks past on the street. And the barbeques on neighbors balconies can almost smoke me out of our home sometimes.
Another thing I have learned over the years is that I have to consider the total toxic load, along with other migraine triggers, in order to protect myself more effectively.
Accumulated migraine triggers... I'll get to that in a minute.
Many of us migraine sufferers are sensitive to smells even when they are not toxic. It's called an olfactory hallucination.
Reducing paint, chemical cleansers, and perfume fumes (all well known migraine triggers) is hard at the best of times and especially difficult if it's triggered an attack and keeps retriggering you.
Keep reading to see my 9 tips for toxic overload to help with faster recovery or maybe even new ways to avoid triggering your next migraine attack!
What does toxic overload have to do with migraines you ask?
Well it all adds up or accumulates to become a migraine trigger. Toxic fumes from paint, perfume and smoke (and most chemicals).
I've already mentioned this, but it seems much more annoying now that I have been a migraine sufferer for so long. That smoke you can smell a block away or when you find yourself gasping for air around freshly sprayed buckets of perfume! Or just walking through a cloud of perfume can set of an attack for me. Not just a four hour one, those ones that last ten days if I don't act fast.
And what's with all the shops that light incense? Is that to cover up mold? I don't even walk into those ones. Oops - I am getting carried away. I live in Australia, so you might not get that where you live. It's humid here .... so I can only guess.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I had to get much sicker than 'just' having migraines to learn some really beneficial things to do for them. And so this all forms part of my treatment plan for migraine headache recovery.
Here are some of my secret weapons to deal with toxic overload from paint, chemical cleansers, plastic, and mold – aka migraine triggers:
1. Act immediately! Do not delay or spend time disbelieving your reaction – it is not
all in your mind. It is a real physical reaction to a toxin and it
might become another migraine trigger. Having it happen again and again
2. Close doors to the infected room in order to contain the toxin. Do not open doors to air the room as the smell will spread throughout the house. Do open windows in that room and in the house.
Light tea light candles in each room, 5-6 candles per room. Burn them
until you are no longer reacting. This could mean a few hours, all day
or a week or more. Trust me it’s worth the effort. Don’t just light
two and then give up. Persevere and light 6 per room, and keep them
lit. Except when you are sleeping and can’t watch them that is.
If new plastic items that are releasing petrochemicals and other
nasties into your air space, if possible, remove the (smelly, mouldy, or
dusty) item from your house.
5. If possible, remove yourself from your house.
6. Get someone to remove the item from your house if your reaction to it is strong enough to trigger a migraine attack.
Light tea lights, and spray water soluble Eucalyptus oil mixed ½ and ½
with water in the rooms, every ½ hour at least for as long as it takes.
8. Know that it may take 2-4 weeks to degas new items. For example, new kitchens may take 4 years!
9. Items must be heated to degas - so putting them in the sun is a good option.
Reference for Toxic Cigarettes Migraine Trigger: Sampson, R. M.D. and Hughes, P. B.S.N. (1997)
Breaking Out of Environmental Illness
. Bear & Company, Inc.: Santa Fe, NM.