I’m a new perfume freak and a resident Neurologist. I’ve seen people comment on these forums about certain fragrances giving them headaches. Triggers for migraine have been studied for some time, but to my knowledge nobody has tried to identify specific perfumes as headache-inducing.
So, I think it would be great to conduct a study to identify olfactory triggers for headache (migraine or otherwise) and epidemiological factors related to them.
If any of you has ever had a scent-induced headache, I’d be very obliged if you’d take the time to answer the following questions and post them bellow. By posting you agree to let me make a statistical analysis of the data (I won’t cite you directly or release your nick). I think this info could be interesting to all perfumistas and might contribute to our knowledge of migraine and other headaches.
1) Do you regularly have headaches? Has anyone ever diagnosed you as having migraines?
2) Have you ever had a headache induced by a scent? How do you know the scent was the trigger? (Eg. It happens every time I smell this scent/this note always gives me a headache etc). Has this happened more than once?
3) Which scents give you headaches? Please note names, houses, individual notes etc. Don’t restrict yourself to perfume: if chocolate or gasoline give you headaches, please let me know. But stick to scents: drinking red whine or eating cheese don't count, only if you get the headache by smelling them.
4) Here are the diagnostic criteria for migraine from the International Headache Society. Do you think your fragrance induced headache was a migraine?
A. At least five headache attacks lasting 4 - 72 hours (untreated or unsuccessfully treated), which has at least two of the four following characteristics:
1. Unilateral location
2. Pulsating quality
3. Moderate or severe intensity (inhibits or prohibits daily activities)
4. Aggravated by walking stairs or similar routine physical activity
B. During headache at least one of the two following symptoms occur:
1. Phonophobia and photophobia
2. Nausea and/or vomiting
Migraine with aura (MA) diagnostic criteria
A. At least two attacks fulfilling with at least three of the following:
1. One or more fully reversible aura symptoms indicating focal cerebral cortical and/or brain stem functions
2. At least one aura symptom develops gradually over more than four minutes, or two or more symptoms occur in succession
3. No aura symptom lasts more than 60 minutes; if more than one aura symptom is present, accepted duration is proportionally increased
4. Headache follows aura with free interval of at least 60 minutes (it may also simultaneously begin with the aura
B. At least one of the following aura features establishes a diagnosis of migraine with typical aura:
1. Homonymous visual disturbance (difficulty seeing on the right or left side)
2. Unilateral paresthesias and/or numbness (tingling or numbness on one side of body)
3. Unilateral weakness (weakness on one side of the body)
4. Aphasia or unclassifiable speech difficulty (speech difficulty, trouble finding words)
Also, if you're ok with it, it'd be great if you could give me your age and gender. But that's entirely optional.
Thanks for helping me out with this. I'll make sure I release the results here. Thanks for (hopefully) contributing to the progress of Science