Coping with Migraine and Sensory Overload

Coping with Migraine and Sensory Overload

Introduction to Migraine and Sensory Overload

A migraine is a recurring headache disorder characterized by intense throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. It is often accompanied by various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine attack, individuals may experience sensory overload, where their senses become hypersensitive and can exacerbate the symptoms.

Symptoms of Migraine and Sensory Overload

Common symptoms of a migraine include:

  • Throbbing or pulsating headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Visual disturbances, such as seeing flashing lights or blind spots
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Sensitivity to touch

Sensory overload can amplify these symptoms, making the migraine attack more challenging to manage.

Understanding the Impact of Sensory Overload

Sensory overload during a migraine attack can have several implications:

  • Increased pain levels: Sensory stimuli like bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells can intensify the pain experienced during a migraine episode.
  • Prolonged or intensified symptoms: Sensory overload can prolong the duration of a migraine attack and make the associated symptoms more severe.
  • Difficulty in finding relief: Sensory overload can make it challenging to find relief from migraines, as exposure to trigger stimuli can trigger or prolong the attacks.

Strategies to Manage Sensory Overload during a Migraine Attack

Implementing strategies to manage sensory overload can help alleviate the impact of triggers during a migraine attack:

Creating a calm and quiet environment

  • Dimming lights or using blackout curtains to reduce light sensitivity
  • Wearing sunglasses or tinted glasses to minimize exposure to bright lights
  • Using earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to block out loud noises

Minimizing exposure to trigger stimuli

  • Avoiding strong smells by staying away from triggers or using a mask
  • Removing or reducing sources of bright or flickering lights, such as turning off fluorescent lights or using soft, indirect lighting
  • Limiting physical contact or wearing soft, comfortable clothing

Practicing relaxation techniques

  • Engaging in deep breathing exercises to promote relaxation and reduce stress
  • Trying progressive muscle relaxation to release tension and promote a sense of calm
  • Using mindfulness and meditation techniques to improve focus and alleviate discomfort

Experimenting with adaptive technology

  • Using electronic sensory aids like blue light filters or sound machines to minimize exposure to triggers
  • Exploring apps or devices designed to assist with managing sensory overload during migraines

Recording and Tracking Symptoms During a Migraine Attack

Keeping a record of symptoms during a migraine attack is essential for effective management:

  • Recording symptoms helps identify triggers, patterns, and potential remedies.
  • Different methods of recording symptoms include traditional pen and paper, smartphone apps or digital journals, and migraine-specific tracking tools.
  • Important information to include in a symptom tracking record:
    • Date and time of the attack
    • Intensity of pain on a scale of 1-10
    • Descriptions of symptoms experienced
    • Duration of the attack
    • Potential triggers
    • Medications or remedies used and their effectiveness
    • Impact of sensory overload on symptoms
  • Helpful tips for recording symptoms during an attack:
    • Use shorthand or bullet points to make the process easier
    • Record details as soon as possible after the attack to ensure accuracy
    • Be consistent and diligent in tracking each attack to identify patterns and trends

Benefits of Tracking Symptoms during a Migraine Attack

Tracking symptoms during a migraine attack offers several advantages:

  • Facilitating communication with healthcare providers by providing a comprehensive overview of migraine patterns and triggers
  • Aiding in identifying effective treatment options based on symptom patterns
  • Increasing self-awareness by helping individuals discover personal triggers and warning signs
  • Assisting in the management of sensory overload by identifying specific triggers and enabling the development of tailored coping strategies


Managing sensory overload during migraine attacks is crucial for effective coping. By implementing strategies to create a calm environment, minimizing exposure to trigger stimuli, practicing relaxation techniques, and tracking symptoms, individuals with migraines can enhance their ability to manage and alleviate the impact of sensory overload. Taking a proactive approach to migraine management empowers individuals to take control of their migraines and improve their quality of life.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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