Do you Smell that? Migraine Aura and Phantom Smells

migraine smell aura

When it comes to migraine, smell aura is one of the strangest symptoms I get. Last weekend, I went shopping. When I went to checkout, I was overcome by the smell of gas.  I cautiously asked if anyone else smelled gas. I didn’t want to induce chaos from people fleeing the store from a gas leak, but no one else smelled it.  No one?  How weird!  So when I got home and was changing I smelled it again.  I then knew it was me and not a store in danger, lucky them. Migraine aura phantom smells are a symptom and sign that a migraine attack is rising.

Phantom Smells

In fact, I was the one in danger.  I am sensitive to smells, sound, light as someone living with migraine. I have always known that smells are a trigger but never realized that my migraine smell aura is a symptom also. Even with experience and visual migraine aura, I have never thought about the aura smell. I see dots and zig zags prior to a migraine. Smelling gas is a new migraine aura for me. Migraine aura is scary and potentially dangerous.  Discuss any migraine aura with your doctor.

Can Migraine Cause Phantom Smell?

How to Recognize Migraine Aura

The next day, I was hit with a migraine attack. Every day I learn something new about myself and migraine.  While spreading the word about migraine, I look at myself totally differently.  I used to think I was a girl with a weak immune system who never felt well because of it.  In reality, a lot, if not all, that I experience has to do with my migraine disease.  It’s either symptoms, triggers,  side effects from meds, or pre and post-migraine damage.  It’s a life full of lessons and a roller coaster of feelings.

At least I can say I’m learning.   Another day, another migraine attack.  Do you smell that?

Do you Experience Migraine Smell Aura?

I also experience visual auras.

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Sarah Rathsack

I tell stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. My kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate me to make a difference in the Migraine World.

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7 Comments

  1. Michael Fernandez on September 23, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Oh I feel for you I have scary auditory hallucinations now as if people are talking to me as well as ghost scents like what you experienced. Along with light sensitivity and a hatred of all strong scents I certainly feel for you and can relate to this article. Short and sweet well written, we all appreciate your story the more people that get their migraine story out there the more successful we can be!



  2. Ann Manly on September 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you for all your insights! It is nice to know there are others who struggle and cope with this disease. I too am triggered by scents as well as many other things. I try and keep reading everything I can to educate myself about different ways to function as well as possible! Chronic migraines are a frustrating and painful way to live! God bless you!



  3. sandys5 on September 27, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I can totally relate to your post. I smell a dirty ashtray or dirty socks when I have a migraine coming on. My problem is, I start looking around for the source of the problem thinking that perhaps it is lurking around and I can take care of the problem before it dawns on me that it is my trigger again. My husband sometimes has to remind me – lol. I have a daily chronic headache and have had it for over 14 years and get migraines throughout the month. We are just unique individuals 🙂



  4. k2k9dogs on September 29, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Was standing in line at the Dunkin’ Donuts yesterday (something I rarely do, as I have no patience… but I had promised the hubs some doughnuts for Sunday breakfast!). Anyway, a woman walked in REEKING of perfume. Seriously, on a Sunday morning, at like 8:30 a.m. Really? I was so overcome, I got an instant headache and almost had to leave. Instead, I put my sleeve up across my face and stood there like that — with my arm across my face, breathing into my sleeve, until I got “used to the smell”. Sigh.



  5. teabird on October 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve spent a lot of time reality-testing those olfactory hallucinations, and part of my aura is also smelling things that *are* there as if they were jackhammers. Migraine is … fascinating …



  6. Christina Fulton on October 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Yes! This resonates with me. I smell things that are not there and things that are there. I keep peppermint oil with me at all times. When a strong scent begins to bother me, I can put a little peppermint oil on my hand and hold it under my nose. It helps to cancel out perfume type smells really well and can often prevent a migraine.



  7. Mara Migraineur on October 14, 2014 at 6:13 am

    I like to refer to these as my superpowers. 🙂 (photophobia, phonophobia, and the smellophobia that I can’t remember the name for right now – damn brain fog).



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