Osmophobia, or a morbid fear of smells is a stand alone phobia commonly found among migraine sufferers, who report that their headaches are triggered by strong scents, resulting in them having a fear of these smells. However, in many cases, the fear becomes extreme and irrational and hampers daily functioning. Scents that can trigger Osmophobia include widely different odors such as perfumes, cigarette smoke, motor vehicle exhaust and some cleaning products and foods. Also, the sense of smell being highly personalized, what smells wonderful to one person might smell terrible to the next thus triggering different reactions in different people. So those suffering from Osmophobia may be triggered by a wide spectrum of possible scents.
Osmophobia is generally characterised by the following symptoms:
Inability to articulate words or sentences
Shaking or trembling
Shortness of breath
Apart from migraine patients, people suffering from chemophobia or the fear of chemicals may have a strong dislike to any chemical odor. Others with an aversion to animals may react strongly to any animal scents while those with a fear of water may turn away from the smell of the ocean.
If the Osmophobia of a patient is unrelated to any medical diagnosis it will be treated by a variety of therapeutic techniques. Systematic desensitization works particularly well in which the sufferer is gradually exposed to the feared scent. Those with a migraine problem will need regular intervention from their doctors.
Other treatments that can help cure the phobia are:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which aids patients in recognizing their triggers and helps them to develop coping techniques
Anxiety alleviating medications and relaxation techniques
Exposure therapy or repeated exposure to the source of the phobia
Psychotherapy or Counseling
If you feel you are triggered by a particular smell, consult your doctor without further ado.
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