Osmophobia: Scent-Induced Migraine

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Key Questions
  • What is osmophobia and how is it related to migraine?
  • What other conditions is osmophobia associated with?
  • How prevalent is osmophobia among people with migraine?
  • How do you know whether smells trigger a migraine attack, or whether someone with migraine is hypersensitive to smell during an attack?
  • Do people with migraine experience osmophobia only during migraine attacks, or is it at other times, too?
  • Is osmophobia a feature of other types of headache?
  • How does the brain perceive smell?
  • How is osmophobia related to depression and anxiety?
  • Why are some people more sensitive to smell than others?
  • What are some of the most problematic smells for people with osmophobia?
  • Why are women more prone to osmophobia than men?
  • Are natural smells less apt to trigger a migraine attack than artificial smells?
  • What are “phantom smells” and why do they occur?
  • What other neurological conditions are associated with phantosmia?
  • Is a heightened sense of smell considered an aura?
  • What can we do to overcome osmophobia?
  • Are there any medications or therapies for it?
  • Why is there so little research on osmophobia, especially associated with migraine?
  • Has COVID-19 made any difference in research funding for issues related to the olfactory system?
  • Does neuroinflammation affect the sense of smell?
  • Can osmophobia worsen with age, or even with the progression of migraine?
Interview Notes

Find more about Frederick Godley, MD and his work here:

Treatments Mentioned
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Gabapentin
  • Hypnotic therapies
  • Peppermint
  • Phenytoin
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Smell retraining
  • Triptans
  • Venlafaxine

Please note: The Migraine World Summit’s aim is to bring you a variety of perspectives and expertise, independent of bias or judgment. Alternative theories presented in this video have not been medically reviewed. Views expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of the Migraine World Summit. Please always consult your health care professional and do your own research before making changes to your treatment plan.

Frederick Godley, MD

Founder & President
Association of Migraine Disorders

Dr. Frederick Godley is an ENT-otolaryngologist and is the co-founder and current president of the Association of Migraine Disorders, a not-for-profit organisation. Dr. Godley graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine in 1983 and completed his general surgical residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. His specialty training was at the Yale–New Haven Hospital. In keeping with the spirit of both giving to and learning from others, Dr. Godley has taught young surgeons at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, and currently the Rhode Island Hospital. He works in Providence, Rhode Island, specializing in Otolaryngology and Pediatric Otolaryngology.

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