Migraine and Grocery Store

Updated on October 18, 2012
L.B. asks from Berwick, ME
11 answers

After keeping a migraine diary for a few weeks, I noticed that whenever I go to the grocery store and spend long enough in there to get my weeky order, by the time I get to the check out, I have a terrible migraine wih visual disturbance. This is a strange pattern. My guess is either the fluorescent lights in the store or one of the chemicals they use in a prduct or cleaing is causing he migraine.

Does anyone else get a migraine in the grocery store?

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So What Happened?

Although, I hate to hear that others suffer from the curse of the migraine - it is comforting to have my grocery store connection validated.

No - the migraine is not from stress or anxiety about being in the store - The only thing that causes anxiety is the thought of getting a migraine. But, thanks for the thought!

Last time I went shopping I wore sunglasses and it made a huge difference - I got a lot of strange looks because it was a cloudy day

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answers from New York on

How about stress/anxiety? There's lots of reasons to get stressed out in stores like crowds, long waits, traffic, rudeness of other people, loudness, not being able to quickly find what you want, not getting out of the store when you think you should have, etc. I can't take my hubby shopping. He gets so nervous, that he has to go #2 so I have to quickly drive him home since he has a fear of germs. Crowds (lots of people) make him nervous.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Oklahoma City on

You CFF is what is causing the migraine. That is your Critical Flicker Frequency. Your eyes pick up the fluctuation in the florescent lights where most peoples eyes just adapt and are too slow picking up the fluctuation. Your eyes are lucky like mine. I can spend a couple of hours under those kinds of lights for a class and I am in pain the rest of the day.

It also happened when I would go to the fabric cutting table in the old Walmart. They had a ceiling fan over the cutting table and the lights were above it. So it was much like a strobe light the whole time I was in line. I could hardly see the way to the front of the store after standing in line a few minutes.

The way to manage this is to wear a baseball cap with the visor as low as possible on your forehead. This cuts the light flickers down and the brain starts to allow it to blend in instead of processing it as individual flickers.

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answers from Seattle on

Fluorescent lights!!! We got new lighting in our classrooms about 6 years ago and several of us were getting headaches. I got a migraine a couple of times and was hardly able to make it home, but one gal at work was getting them constantly to the point of throwing up. The kids were getting headaches too! We figured out it was the lights and kept a bank of them off during the day until they could come out and fix them. They were too high wattage for the low ceilings and small classrooms - think about how BRIGHT the grocery store is; those bad boys have got to be putting out some seriously high wattage!

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answers from New York on

It's definitely the flourescent lights. This happens to me when I am in Toys R Us too long. Try wearing sunglasses next time you are there for a prolonged period of time.

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answers from Columbia on

Sounds about right!

I don't get migraines in the grocery store...mine are caused by caffeine. I stopped ingesting any caffeine and they are gone.

Good luck with your shopping! Hopefully some sunglasses will help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

No particular ideas - just wanted to say great detective work! :)

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answers from Seattle on

A big YES from me. I find that all shopping can set off a migraine. The combination of bright lights, reading labels, walking and looking up and down, focus, re-focus, forget, backtrack...all that leads to a migraine for me as well.

Restaurants are just as bad, because they are noisier, less lighting, but hard for me focus on conversations in loud places. Ugh....

GL! Great idea to keep the diary and follow through with it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I don't get a migraine but I do get a weird feeling from the lights or the patterns and colors on certain aisles. I would try to either wear sunglasses, or if you feel odd, wear a hat and see if that helps from the lighting. Busy patterns like some flooring, aisles with busy boxes, etc mess with my eyes. I find that especially when I am tired this happens more. I don't smell many of the chemicals to think it would be that. Try and pinpoint when you first start feeling weird....like if you are looking at busy patterns and all of a sudden you start that visual feeling. I always know when something is going to trigger an episode so I look away, close my eyes, or put on my sunglasses. I can't handle bright things anymore....
Also, try writing down foods in your diary, medicines, etc Crazy enough, I figured out that I get them from Granny Smith Apples...my favorite for years. Strong smells trigger it and if a headlight, sun shining off of a car, etc shines in my eyes...I see spots and then get a visual migraine. A doctor told my mom years ago that you can 'help' prevent them by either taking a prescription med, or try taking a Magnesium vitamin with a baby aspirin. The Magnesium is for nervous system and the baby aspirin is for blood thinning and headaches. It does seem to help. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes, and I know people probably look at me strangely, but it helps if I wear my sunglasses - I wear them almost all the time, even on cloudy days.The tinting isn't that dark, so I can still see and it takes the edge off of the fluorescent glare.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

Yup! Wear your sunglasses while you shop. Promise it helps, and it will lend an "air of sophistication" to the process. haha

In one store here in the south, they use some type of floor wax to clean their floors that leaves a really strong odor. I cannot shop there at all without getting a migraine.

Good luck and feel better!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Not when I go to the grocery store, but at other stores. I have to walk on the other side of any mall that has a body shop! Mine are easily triggered by smells/scents. I've also noticed that some stores pump fresheners through the ventilation system, it kills me when they do that. Also when a place has been treated with a pest control....immediate headache for me. When a place doesn't have proper ventilation...like when the air isn't exchanged at the proper rate. I forget the proper term :) They may be the case in your local grocery store, if so all the vapors etc from anything in the store are stagnant and could trigger migraines.

Yes, bright lights are a def culprit too. I've never tried the sunglasses idea before, but def worth a try!

1 mom found this helpful
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