What types of smells usually trigger migraines

Headache or migraine?

Everyone knows headaches. But what if they are so strong that they downright paralyze? Maybe there is a migraine behind it.

A pulsating, throbbing pain in the head, light, noises and smells are often unbearable and it is not uncommon for you to fight with nausea. These are the typical symptoms of a migraine patient. Triggers include stress, lack of sleep, and hormone fluctuations.

Lights and noises can be unbearable in migraines, so that those affected often flee into a darkened room for days. There is no cure for migraines, but the frequency of attacks can be reduced and an attack can be brought under control more quickly with the right medication.

What is it?

Not all headaches are created equal. The International Headache Society assumes around 250 species.

The two most common forms are tension headache and migraine. A dull, bilateral, pressing or pulling pain is typical of tension headaches. It often subsides in the fresh air.

In migraines, the pain is intense, more attack-like, usually one-sided and pulsating. The side can switch from attack to attack. Possible accompanying symptoms are loss of appetite, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea, vomiting and hypersensitivity to certain smells. If the attack is preceded by visual disturbances, tingling or numbness in the face, arms and legs, one speaks of a migraine with aura. Important difference to tension headache: The pain usually increases with physical activity.

The test

You can find out for yourself what type of pain you are with a simple test: If the headache worsens when you shake your head or hold it down for longer, for example when putting on stockings or shoes, it is very likely a migraine. If you have a tension headache, the pain usually doesn't get worse.

More regularity

To prevent this, more regularity in everyday life can be helpful. For example, fixed meal times and a regular sleep-wake cycle. Deviations from the usual daily routine can mean stress and trigger a new attack. Regular exercise and relaxation are also important. Progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson has proven itself. In doing so, you learn to consciously perceive tension and relaxation of the muscles and to use them specifically against stress.

A migraine calendar helps

It is important to know the body's signals and to react to them in good time. A diary in which migraine attacks and the type of pain, their duration and severity are documented, helps to track down the triggers. These include, for example, alcohol and nicotine, too much caffeine, but also chocolate. Flavor enhancers such as glutamate and sweeteners are also suspected to be triggers. The migraine calendar can also be helpful for the doctor, so it's best to take it with you at your next appointment.

Cooling and rest

In the case of migraines, a cooling compress or mint oil can be applied to the temples to provide relief. For lighter attacks, pain relievers such as acetylsalicylic acid, paracetamol or ibuprofen have proven effective. An anti-nausea medicine can be useful.

Triptans for severe complaints

There are also effective drugs for severe migraine attacks, so-called triptans. From a chemical point of view, they are similar to the body's own serotonin. Triptans take over the function of serotonin, the deficiency of which leads to the expansion and inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain. At the same time, they inhibit the release of pain-promoting messenger substances and suppress pain perception. Taking the drug at the first signs of an attack can usually avoid the worst.

Naratriptan and almotriptan are available over-the-counter in pharmacies and can help with migraines with and without aura. The effect lasts for around 24 hours. Triptans are well tolerated, but must not be taken, for example, in cardiovascular diseases, by elderly patients or during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition, the rule applies to triptans that they must not be used more than ten days a month. We will be happy to advise you in your pharmacy.

In the case of migraines, the treatment and prevention options should always be discussed with the doctor. If the seizures occur three or more times a month and the pain is difficult to relieve, then preventive medication can be taken, which the doctor prescribes individually. Beta blockers, calcium antagonists and so-called anticonvulsants (anti-epileptic drugs), which reduce the excitability of the brain, are in the foreground here. In your pharmacy there are also over-the-counter magnesium preparations for prevention.

The right therapy?

A quick test will show you are getting the right medication:

  • Can you work as usual no later than two hours after taking the tablets?
  • Did your headache go away within two hours?
  • Does your drug work equally well for most attacks?
  • With your current treatment, can you plan everyday activities in a normal and carefree manner?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you should contact your doctor. Your migraine therapy can certainly still be optimized.

Correct intake

Pain tablets can cause headaches themselves if they are taken too often. Therefore do not take the funds for more than three days in a row and not more than ten days a month. For children, products with the active ingredients ibuprofen and paracetamol are headache relievers of first choice.