A wide range of information exists on how to find relief from pain on a migraine day. If you experience migraine, you may have explored a number of approaches, from dietary adjustments and preventative medications to breathing exercises and meditation.
But when a migraine is underway, you’re no doubt looking for a way to alleviate some of your head pain in the moment, as quickly as possible. One or more of these simple approaches may help:
If you are prone to migraine, have a bottle of water at hand. It’s easy to forget hydration when you have a busy schedule or when you’re already experiencing a migraine episode. But dehydration can make your headache worse, so be sure to sip water regularly throughout the day.
Drink more than usual if you’re especially active or if the weather is hot. Eating fruits and vegetables that contain plenty of water — strawberries, peaches, tomatoes — can also provide needed hydration.
Excessive chewing, or regularly clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, may lead to or worsen a headache. A 2015 study showed that gum-chewing may trigger tension-type or migraine headaches in people with headache disorders. While eating regularly can help with your headache, try to avoid foods that require a lot of chewing.
For best results in relieving your migraine, take over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers or your prescription medications as soon as you feel pain or discomfort coming on. Read instructions carefully and follow the recommended dosage.
If OTC painkillers don’t work, or if you find you must take them too frequently, ask your doctor if stronger painkillers or migraine-specific therapies such as triptans make sense for you. Young people under 16 are not recommended to take aspirin unless prescribed by their doctor.
Does this suggestion seem counterintuitive, since caffeine is a stimulant? A cup of black tea or a shot of espresso early in a migraine episode may help lessen pain and may even help over-the-counter painkillers perform better. However, it’s still a good idea to limit your caffeine intake but to stay well-hydrated.
A migraine attack can be significantly worse than a “bad headache.” It can involve an extended period of nausea, hypersensitivity of the senses, lightheadedness, and aura (including blurred vision, dark spots, seeing bright dots, zigzags, or sparks, tingling on one side of the body, and speech problems).
On a migraine day, finding the right environment to rest and avoid overstimulation can help your body cope and recuperate more easily. Here are some ideas to create a more relaxing environment:
If your migraine episodes begin when you’re not in your home environment, the same approaches still apply: try to find an area where you can block bright light or muffle sound as much as possible.
Another simple modification: fix your posture. According to a 2015 study, people with migraine often experience neck pain. Adjusting your posture can relieve pressure on your neck and back and may help reduce the length and severity of the attack.
A few quick and light stretches standing up, or a chair with good back support, might bring some relief. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, some states allow employees to request certain accommodations such as an ergonomic chair by providing a note from their doctor.
A well-known home remedy, use of either hot or cold compresses depends on the nature of your migraine and what works best for you personally. A heating pad or a hot compress may relax tense muscles that can contribute to migraine pain. On the other hand, cold packs have a numbing effect as they decrease blood flow to the area. On a hot day when migraine due to dehydration can occur, a cold pack and a tall glass of water may bring quick relief for some symptoms.
An intense episode of migraine may call for extra medical attention. Seek help at an emergency or urgent care facility if you experience:
A migraine day can be inconvenient, even debilitating, to your daily life. It’s always wise to share what you’re feeling or to request help and assistance when needed. Talk to your loved ones. Consult your doctor. Reach out to Mable on our social platforms or at email@example.com.
Your DNA may provide clues to how and why you get migraines — and point to an optimal treatment approach for your unique migraine profile. Learn more by taking our quiz.
1. Scripps. 6 Simple Ways to Stay Hydrated. https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6630-6-simple-ways-to-stay-hydrated
2. Lippi G, Cervellin G, Mattiuzzi C. “Gum-Chewing and Headache: An Underestimated Trigger of Headache Pain in Migraineurs?” CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25714969/
3. NHS. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/treatment/
4. Ashina S; Bendtsen L; Lyngberg AC; Lipton RB; Hajiyeva N; Jensen R; “Prevalence of Neck Pain in Migraine and Tension-Type Headache: A Population Study.” Cephalalgia: an International Journal of Headache, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24853166/
5. Migraines. Job Accommodation Network (JAN). https://askjan.org/disabilities/Migraines.cfm