The Prevalence of Osmophobia in Migranous and Episodic Tension Type Headaches

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Neurology, Alzahra Hospital, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Neurology, Mohammad Rasolalah Hospital, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 General Practitioner, Alzahra Hospital, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

4 Researcher, Medical School, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: Migraines are a neurological disease, of which the most common symptom is an intense and disabling episodic headache. Many persons experience sensory hyper excitability manifested by photophobia, phonophobia and osmophobia. This study was planned to investigate the prevalence of osmophobia in migranous and episodic tension type headache (ETTH). Materials and Methods: A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to all patients to evaluate the eventual presence of osmophobia during a headache attack and different characteristics of osmophobia were determined. Results: Osmophobia reported in 84% with migranous headache with aura, 74% of migranous patients without aura and in 43.3% of those with ETTH. In 50% of patients, osmophobia was present in all of their headache attacks, 11.7% had osmophobia in more than half of their attacks (from 10 attacks they reported osmophobia in 5-9 ones) and others had this sign in less than half of their attacks (from 10 attacks they reported osmophobia in less than 5 ones). Most frequently the offending odors were scents (88%), foods (54.2%) and cigarette smoke (62.5%). Osmophobia starts 30 min before the headache starts in 22.7% of patients. Conclusion: Osmophobia appears structurally integrated into the migraine history of the patient; however, for differential diagnosis with ETTH, other criteria are necessary.


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