I've bought some air fresheners a while back, and since then I get migraine attacks more often. I didn't fully realize that it might be the cause for my headaches, until I didn't use it for a week and I was fine.

Yesterday I just used it again and it was followed by a headache. I thought it might be because of the chemicals, or maybe I am allergic to it, So I tried a new one today, same result.

My question is, is there any scientific reason that could claim a headache caused by just a smell?!

  • 1
    Interesting question. Clinically, yes it happens. But I actually don't know how that works neurologically and am curious to see if there is an answer.
    – DoctorWhom
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:47
  • Thanks for the comment. I was thinking about asking this on Biology, but the boyz on biology are sensitive, they don't like questions like this.
    – Johansson
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:53
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    There is a fine line for sure in terms of scope, often blurry. But BioSE is a good goal for a well-functioning site, I'd love to see us get there!
    – DoctorWhom
    Aug 12, 2017 at 9:55

1 Answer 1


Certainly, headaches can be caused by a variety of smells, perfumes, paints, gasoline, bleach and yes, air fresheners.

A study in 200 migraine patients showed perfumes were the first most common cause when headaches are attributed to odors (75%), followed by paints (42%), gasoline (28%) and bleach (27%)

  • That's exactly the case for me. I can never use a perfume because a headache is guaranteed. Thanks for the link and clarification!
    – Johansson
    Oct 5, 2019 at 21:03

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