Migraine and Loss of Smell: Patient Perspectives

Migraine and Loss of Smell: Patient Perspectives


As someone who has experienced migraine attacks and the associated loss of smell, I understand the impact these symptoms can have on daily life. It is important for both healthcare providers and patients to recognize and acknowledge the connection between migraine attacks and loss of smell. In this article, I will share my personal experiences and offer insights into the importance of tracking and reporting smell changes to your doctor.

The Connection Between Migraine and Loss of Smell

Migraines can affect multiple senses, and loss of smell, known as anosmia, is a lesser-known but significant symptom. During a migraine attack, the disruption in brain activity can interfere with the normal functioning of the olfactory system. Personally, during my migraine attacks, I noticed a complete loss of smell, which added to the overall discomfort and frustration.

The impact of loss of smell on daily life cannot be understated. Simple pleasures like enjoying a favorite meal or smelling the fragrance of flowers are taken for granted until they are stripped away. The loss of aroma can also affect our emotional well-being, as certain scents are associated with memories and can evoke strong emotions.

Tracking and Recording Smell Changes During Migraines

One valuable tool in managing migraine attacks is tracking and recording symptoms, including changes in smell. By maintaining a record, you can gather crucial information to better understand your condition and communicate with your healthcare provider effectively.

The benefits of tracking symptoms during migraine attacks

  • Remembering and documenting the experience: Keeping track of your symptoms helps you recall important details when discussing your migraine attacks with your healthcare provider. It can also help identify patterns or triggers.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety related to migraine attacks: Tracking symptoms can provide a sense of control and empowerment, relieving some of the anxiety that comes with managing migraine attacks.

Quick note-taking during an attack

During a migraine attack, writing a detailed description of your smell changes may not be feasible. Instead, consider using a simple rating scale to indicate the severity of your loss of smell, such as none (0), partial (1), or complete (2) anosmia. This will provide a quick snapshot of your symptoms for future reference.

Recording the effectiveness of treatments

Tracking smell changes during migraine attacks can also help evaluate the effectiveness of various treatments. By documenting the time it takes for a specific treatment to provide relief or any side effects experienced, you can make informed decisions about your ongoing migraine management.

How fast did the treatment work?

When reporting smell changes, it is important to note how quickly a treatment provided relief. Did the treatment start working within 30 minutes of intake or within 2 hours? This information can guide your healthcare provider in adjusting your treatment plan.

Questions for the doctor during the next visit

Tracking smell changes also allows you to ask specific questions during your next doctor’s visit. You can inquire about any side effects you experienced or seek clarification on the correct usage of medication. These conversations with your doctor are essential for fine-tuning your migraine management approach.

Reporting Smell Changes to the Doctor

When it comes to reporting smell changes during migraine attacks, every detail matters. While it may seem overwhelming to convey all the information to your doctor, it is important to recognize the relevance and potential impact of your report.

The relevance of reporting all details to the doctor

Doctors rely on patient reports to guide their treatment decisions. By providing accurate and comprehensive information about your smell changes, you are assisting them in identifying patterns, triggers, and potential treatment options.

Potential limitations in the doctor’s ability to review all information

Doctors face limitations as well, such as limited time during appointments and the potential for higher workloads. However, by reporting your smell changes, you contribute to their understanding of your condition, its impact on your daily life, and the effectiveness of current treatment plans.

Doctors’ focus on medication quantities and management

During your discussions with your doctor, they may emphasize the importance of managing medication quantities and adhering to prescribed guidelines. This includes avoiding excessive combinations of medications and ensuring an appropriate time gap between doses.

Doctors’ emphasis on the effectiveness of acute treatment within 2 hours

When discussing your migraine attacks, your doctor may prioritize the effectiveness of acute treatments within a specific timeframe, typically within 2 hours. Tracking smell changes can help assess whether a particular treatment provides relief within this critical window.

Insurance considerations and documentation requirements

It is important to note that insurance providers may require documentation of the number of days of incapacity due to migraine attacks. By reporting smell changes, you contribute to the overall documentation of your condition, which may be necessary for insurance claims.

Determining When to Track Smell Changes

Tracking smell changes during migraine attacks should be done with a specific objective in mind. Understanding your individual triggers and identifying the most effective treatments are key outcomes of this process.

Identifying which medication is most effective

Every individual responds differently to medications. By tracking smell changes along with your treatments, you can identify which medication provides the most relief for you personally. This information can guide your future treatment choices.

Learning how quickly a medication will act

Timing is crucial when managing a migraine attack. Tracking smell changes can help identify how quickly a particular medication provides relief. Factors influencing the time of onset may include the specific medication, dose, and individual variations.

Factors affecting the time of onset

Personal experiences with the timing of relief can provide insights into the factors influencing it. Factors such as the time between medication intake and symptom improvement can be noted to gain a better understanding of your migraine management.


Understanding the impact of migraine attacks, including the loss of smell, goes beyond medical research and clinical perspectives. It is crucial for patients to actively participate in their migraine management by tracking and reporting smell changes to their healthcare providers. By sharing our experiences and providing detailed information about our symptoms, we contribute to a better understanding of migraine attacks and improve treatment outcomes.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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