Phantom Smells and Migraines: Understanding the Connection

Phantom Smells and Migraines: Understanding the Connection

Migraines are a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While they are often associated with headache pain, migraines can also cause a range of other symptoms, including phantom smells. In this article, we'll explore the connection between migraines and phantom smells, what causes them, and what you can do to manage them.

What are Phantom Smells?

Phantom smells are scents that are not actually present in the environment. They can range from pleasant to unpleasant and can be quite strong and overpowering. While they can occur at any time, they are most commonly experienced by people who suffer from migraines.

What Causes Phantom Smells in Migraines?

The exact cause of phantom smells in migraines is not fully understood. However, it is believed that these smells are related to changes in the brain during a migraine attack. Some experts believe that the brain's olfactory center may be affected during a migraine, leading to the perception of phantom smells.

How Do Phantom Smells Affect Migraine Sufferers?

Phantom smells can be extremely distressing and disruptive for people who suffer from migraines. They can make it difficult to concentrate, disrupt sleep, and even cause nausea and vomiting. In some cases, phantom smells can be so intense that they trigger a migraine attack.

How to Manage Phantom Smells in Migraines

The good news is that there are several strategies that can help manage phantom smells in migraines. Here are some tips to help you cope:

  1. Identify triggers: Keeping a migraine diary can help you identify what triggers your phantom smells. This can help you avoid these triggers and reduce the frequency of phantom smells.

  2. Practice stress-reducing techniques: Stress is a common trigger for migraines and phantom smells. Practicing stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation, can help reduce your risk of migraines and phantom smells.

  3. Use essential oils: Essential oils, such as peppermint or lavender, can help mask unpleasant phantom smells and promote relaxation. Simply add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser or apply it to your temples or wrist.

  4. Seek medical help: If your phantom smells are severe or frequent, it is important to seek medical help. Your doctor may prescribe medication to help manage your migraines and reduce the frequency of phantom smells.


Phantom smells can be a distressing and disruptive symptom of migraines. However, by understanding the connection between migraines and phantom smells and implementing strategies to manage them, you can reduce their impact on your daily life. If you are experiencing frequent or severe phantom smells, it is important to seek medical help to determine the underlying cause and find the best treatment plan for you.

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