Migraines, allergies, and solumedrol

  1. Question:

    If my patient's dx is migraine (etiology unknown) and the patient is getting solumedrol around the clock for the past three days, is it possible that the smell of my deodorant/perfume can worsen the headache?


    *Edited to boldface that phrase*
    Last edit by UM Review RN on Dec 19, '07
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   sunny59
    I would suspect so. As a long time migraine sufferer I know any scent at all - food, perfumes, skunk, etc - while I am having a migraine can make it worse. Any noise can make it worse too, and bright lights (try not to flip on bright lights when you go into the pts. room). Perfume and skunk are 2 of my triggers that give me a migraine - so is lack of or interupted sleep.

    Hope this helps ya and thank you for caring about the migraine patient - a lot of people don't understand or care if they are making it worse or not.

    Sunny
  4. by   NewEnglandRN
    I think so... perfume is a horrible trigger for my migraines, as well as the nausea that accompanies them.

    As a patient, it is horrible to be in so much pain and then have a smell make it worse... sorry
  5. by   UM Review RN
    Of course I understand that allergies and smells can make a migraine worse, as I've had it happen to me also.


    But the patient was on solumedrol around the clock for three days. Wouldn't the solumedrol help prevent an allergic exacerbation?
    Last edit by UM Review RN on Dec 19, '07
  6. by   NewEnglandRN
    Well, Solumedrol has helped me tremendously in the past. Is she also on an anti-emetic? Yes, Solumedrol will obviously help with the inflammatory response for an allergic reaction, but what about chemical sensitivity?

    Excellent question BTW...
  7. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from 07NICURN
    Well, Solumedrol has helped me tremendously in the past. Is she also on an anti-emetic? Yes, Solumedrol will obviously help with the inflammatory response for an allergic reaction, but what about chemical sensitivity?

    Excellent question BTW...
    I was only puzzled because of all the smells coming into that room, how could the patient possibly pick and choose which ones were making her sicker, especially if she was being treated?

    I mean, suppose the patient was treated for an outbreak of poison ivy. After the solumedrol (not that I would do this or recommend it) but theoretically, I could sit the patient in a patch of poison ivy and that patient's skin would not react.

    If the patient is having an exacerbation while on solumedrol, would that not signal something more psychological than physical?
  8. by   Soon2BRN86
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    Question:

    If my patient's dx is migraine (etiology unknown) and the patient is getting solumedrol around the clock for the past three days, is it possible that the smell of my deodorant/perfume can worsen the headache?


    *Edited to boldface that phrase*

    I am a chronic migrain sufferer (2-3/week some lasting up to a month) I have been put on solumedrol numerous time and although it eventually helps some if th headache is still there at all any scent can aggrivate it. Even a whiff of it from a nurse wearing perfume, or unfortunatly (because you can't do much about it) deodorant. Sucks, but it's true even if the patient has been on solumedrol for 3 days around the clock

    As to the situation with poisin ivy, I would imagine you are correct since the solumedrol stops the allergy problems, but if this woman was bothered by the smell and still had a headache the perfume would still make the headache work, when I have headaches its not the allergic reaction from the perfume, its the smell
    Last edit by Soon2BRN86 on Dec 19, '07
  9. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from Soon2BRN86
    I am a chronic migrain sufferer (2-3/week some lasting up to a month) I have been put on solumedrol numerous time and although it eventually helps some if th headache is still there at all any scent can aggrivate it. Even a whiff of it from a nurse wearing perfume, or unfortunatly (because you can't do much about it) deodorant. Sucks, but it's true even if the patient has been on solumedrol for 3 days around the clock

    As to the situation with poisin ivy, I would imagine you are correct since the solumedrol stops the allergy problems, but if this woman was bothered by the smell and still had a headache the perfume would still make the headache work, when I have headaches its not the allergic reaction from the perfume, its the smell

    Thanks for your answer.
    I just found it so odd that with all the smells of the hospital, some of chemicals that were minimally smelly, the patient only c/o certain ones.

    I guess you've explained it as well as anyone.
  10. by   P_RN
    Aren't the senses amazing? I found this page that explains it somewhat. http://science.howstuffworks.com/deja-vu.htm

    It's fascinating to me that some smells trigger some things. I lost my sense of smell for several years and when it returned I treasured even the skunkiest.
  11. by   Soon2BRN86
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    Thanks for your answer.
    I just found it so odd that with all the smells of the hospital, some of chemicals that were minimally smelly, the patient only c/o certain ones.

    I guess you've explained it as well as anyone.

    You do have a point there.. u would think in a hospital there would be more smells that would be more bothersome, in my experience it was when the nurse was close to me, either administering meds or changing an IV that perfume was bothersome b/c it was obviously stronger when it was near me. Things that have "seeped" in from the hall were not very bothersome, but some people also have a better sense of smell then some... and some people find certain things to have an offensive smell even when others find it pleasant.... just my perspective, but it was probably just a mixture of things.. def. not something to let bother you.. they'll get over it (I did) :spin:
  12. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from Soon2BRN86
    You do have a point there.. u would think in a hospital there would be more smells that would be more bothersome, in my experience it was when the nurse was close to me, either administering meds or changing an IV that perfume was bothersome b/c it was obviously stronger when it was near me. Things that have "seeped" in from the hall were not very bothersome, but some people also have a better sense of smell then some... and some people find certain things to have an offensive smell even when others find it pleasant.... just my perspective, but it was probably just a mixture of things.. def. not something to let bother you.. they'll get over it (I did) :spin:
    Oh, it doesn't bother me at all personally. Clinically, I find it very interesting. Challenging. All that.

    I was bewildered because I've cared for many, many migraine patients and we've done all types of different therapies, but this was the first who stated that she was still being affected by odors after being in the hospital > 1 week and on various medications.

    Strange problem, very hard to get to the bottom of.

    Had one girlfriend whose migraines were cleared after she defied her religion and cut her hair short. Apparently the weight of having 4.5 feet of hair was causing neck strain and triggered her HA's.

    For others, I've seen DES, Depakote, Imitrex, and even a dark room and Aspirin do the trick.
  13. by   Soon2BRN86
    Yeah I've had all kinds of things make my migraines better/worse, it just depends on the person I guess. I have a much bigger problem with odors then I do lights. Other nurses and some of the Dr's I've seen think I'm crazy until they look at my chart and realize that that's always been the case. Just shows how different every person is! It does make life kind of difficult, I'm a big fan of scented candles, but 2 or 3 times a week I have to put all of them away so I can't smell them. Oh well!

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