As we’d noted before, most people with migraines have sensitivity to smells. And more than three-quarters of those with sensitivity to smell are sensitive to perfume. Unfortunately, that presents some major problems. As a woman who loves perfume, it can be hard to find a scent to wear, and for people working in offices, scents can be disruptive to their ability to work.
Finding a Scent You Can Wear
Allure writer Lindsey Tramuta writes about the difficulty she had with perfume because of her migraines. A child of a migraineur who sometimes suffered long, disabling migraine attacks, Tramuta knew she would sooner or later develop the chronic problem, but that didn’t stop her from developing a love of scents during her teens. Then when she developed migraines in her 20s, she found she could no longer wear the scents she had enjoyed before.
But she didn’t want to give up on scents altogether. She hoped that moving to France would help her find scents that she could wear, scents with more natural ingredients, subtler odors, and more sophisticated formulae that she hoped wouldn’t trigger her migraines. Although she for a time found success with J’Adore by Christian Dior, after a while, this started to trigger her migraines, too.
Because of the mixture of smells found at most perfume counters, she found she couldn’t even continue her search because the experience had more of a tendency to trigger migraines.
But then she discovered the tiny brand L’Artisan Parfumeur, which had several fragrances that she could stand. Hopefully, her chosen fragrance continues to remain a pleasurable one and not turn into a migraine trigger.
The lesson is that it might be difficult, but if you don’t give up, even a migraineur can find a scent they like that doesn’t cause headaches.
Scents in the Workplace
Of course, another potential problem for migraineurs, and one that’s harder to deal with, is when you’re sensitive to someone else’s perfume. Exposure to someone’s perfume on public transportation, in a lobby, or in an airplane can be migraine-inducing. In many places you can’t do much about this, except to mention it in some cases, ask people not to reapply, or try to move away, although the damage might already be done.
However, in the workplace, you might have some options. Migraines can be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your migraines that cause you to miss work, they can be covered under the ADA. Under the ADA, your employer is required to institute reasonable accommodations for people who have disabilities, if these accommodations are an undue burden on the employer and they allow you to work. If other people’s perfumes are causing you to develop migraines and miss work, you can ask for the reasonable accommodation that your employer institute a “no perfume” policy.
In the past, judges have considered this a reasonable accommodation for an employer to make, although it was in the case of a person with allergies to fragrances. Nonetheless, it is likely that a person with migraines could get similar accommodations if they followed proper steps.
First, it’s important to document your condition. Talk to your doctor about the condition and get a proper diagnosis that includes your sensitivity to smell.
Next, talk to your employer about your condition, give documentation of your condition, and make a formal request for accommodation in writing. Hopefully, that’s enough to get you the accommodations you need. If not, you may have to bring a lawsuit.
Helping to Reduce Migraines
Although TMJ treatment will probably not help combat your sensitivity to odors, it can help reduce your tendency to develop migraines for other reasons. This can reduce the burden of your migraines and potentially make it easier to get accommodations for scents and other workplace migraine triggers.