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Is Incense An Instant Migraine Headache Trigger For You Too?

Written by Holly Hazen


I am incensed over incense! It is an instant migraine headache trigger for me and it's everywhere. Even passing people on the street, especially if they are going out for the night can send me into panic.



I'd like to share this little story with you...

I sometimes go for a lovely remedial massage after a long migraine or when I am feeling really stressed out.

So this morning I booked myself in... it has been months since I last had a massage to help relieve the tension caused in my neck and shoulders.

So off I walk down the street into town, enjoying the sunshine and the warm weather.

23 degrees Celsius is my idea of perfection. Singing happily as I walk.. being thankful another pain free day. I have had almost a whole week free of migraines, so I am one happy camper!

Up the stairs I go, and wham – the smell of incense hits me in the face like a Mac truck. I instantly cover my nose with my hat and silently scream "oh no I forgot."

Migraine Headache Trigger Incense

When Scents Catch You By Surprise

I was stunned... it took a few minutes to gather myself.

I couldn’t think straight already, and I could feel that the incense was a strong enough to trigger an attack.

The room even felt smoky. Perhaps I was just over reacting. But sometimes, when it is strong enough, it is like being hit in the face.

It's hard to pause and think straight. Luckily my wonderful masseur came to my rescue as she saw me and said "on no you can't be in here, follow me!" And whisks me off to a 'safe' room to plan my next move.

I always carry my migraine medications (Naramig and Ibuprofen) so I was prepared, but I do need to take them with food. So I ran off to get a banana! Off I go, feeling the adrenaline coursing up my back and that all too familiar feeling of panic.

Perfect time for a massage I thought... and then bummer I was having such a good day.

Thank goodness I took them asap because when I walked into the massage room another level of essential oil aromas filled the air. Have you ever noticed that we are bombarded by smells some days?

Why do incense and perfume have to be my instant migraine triggers? They are everywhere! I have to admit I did fall into 'poor me' for a bit. But then I got my banana, took my pills, and felt much better. I have noticed that taking my medication reduces my anxiety levels significantly. And I was able to enjoy the massage and abort the attack.

Note to self - invest in a good carbon filtered mask!

Buy a good carbon filtered mask and carry it with you wherever you go. Or buy a cheaper mask and put 1 drop of peppermint or lavender essential oil in it.

Another trick is to smell something else. That's right... if you feel triggered smell an orange, or a peach... smell peppermint or lavender essential oil, if they aren't triggers for you. You can sometimes trick your sense of smell to stop the migraine headache trigger in its tracks.

Good Ways To Cope With Any Migraine Headache Trigger

I treat all my triggers the same way:

  • Act as quickly as possible - you only have a 20 minute window for effective pain relief
  • Carry your medications with you at all times
  • Go to lay down in the darkest, quietest room possible with an ice pack
  • And listen to some nice relaxing music or guided meditations to help yourself drift off to sleep

If you'd like more help...

Are These Some of Your Horrible Migraine Symptoms?

Anxiety

Depression

Food Cravings

Cry for no reason

Extreme light sensitivity

Intense head pain

Bouts of Anger

Fatigue

Mood Swings

Nausea 

Irritability 

Muscle Stiffness 

Visual Disturbances 

Insomnia 

Vomiting 



Scroll down for more migraine headache trigger related articles... but first...

If you are interested, check this out from the Environmental Illness Resource:

Lawsuit Results in Fragrance Ban for Detroit City Employees, April 19th, 2010 by Lourdes Salvador.


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