Ways to ease the symptoms of a Migraine

This article is about helping to control the effects of a migraine and is not intended to be considered advice from a physician or other medical personnel.

Migraines feel like they are going to split your head in half!
Migraines feel like they are going to split your head in half! | Source
My version of a migraine...um- I never could draw well.
My version of a migraine...um- I never could draw well. | Source

My migraines

I know the debilitation of a migraine first hand. The tight band around my skull; my eyes wanting to pop out of my head; pain running down the back of my skull; the inability to think or make decisions: there are so many more and they don’t all happen at the same time. Some causes of migraines could be stress, exhaustion, weather or even a regular headache. Some people may have cluster migraines (one migraine right after another); other's might suffer from one great big one. The bottom line is: a migraine keeps me (and anyone who has had one I would imagine) from functioning. Since everyone is different, I’m sure you all know your specific symptoms. Hopefully this article will help you deal with some of them without the use of a prescription medication; or perhaps along with your medication for quick relief while the medication takes effect.

People who have never had a migraine can’t imagine the suffering an individual might have with one. Some just think it is a prank or a way to get out of doing things. Some (even doctors) think it is just a headache because migraines don’t exist because they have never had one. When my brain finally cools down from a migraine, I am very happy to correct their facts. Sadly, it doesn't do much good.

My coffee cup.
My coffee cup. | Source

You might want to keep a few of these in your car.


When the pain of a migraine hits me, the first thing I do (okay so maybe it is closer to the second or third thing) is head to a coffee shop if I am out and about, or my own brewer, if I am at home. Strong coffee has a lot of caffeine and caffeine can help with the pain of a migraine. (Don’t ask me how because I really don’t know, I just know from experience that it does.) If you go for the coffee, try getting it cold so you can use the cold to ease the swollen blood vessels as you swallow. If all you want is the cold and not the caffeine you can get decaffeinated coffee, or go for the frozen drinks-drink slowly or you will get a head freeze to deal with along with the migraine.

I also find that ice of some sort will help. It cools the swollen blood vessels and allows the blood to flow better which means the symptoms will be reduced. I like to use frozen vegetables, especially peas or corn. They really do conform to the head beautifully. You can put one on the top of your head or lay your neck on it.

When you are out and about, try asking a deli or seafood clerk in a grocery store if they can give you a bag of ice wrapped up in two grocery bags. You can hold this on your head or neck as you finish up your errands and then head for home. You could also get a cold water or soda and hold it to your head or neck. I have even found that slowly drinking a cold beverage will help because it gets to the back of the throat and cools down those swollen blood vessels leading up to the brain.

Light Sensitivity

When it comes to a migraine, the darkness is definitely your friend. When I am in the light it sends burning darts through my eyes right into my brain where they burn and build until it feels like my brain will explode (sorry, a little dramatic there). I try to find a dark room as fast as possible. If one is not available, try placing dark blankets or towels over your windows to block out as much light as possible. If you must have a light, try candles (but don’t look directly at them). If you can’t make a dark room, try using a sleep mask. Lie down, pull one over your eyes and try to rest. I say ‘try’ because it is hard to do with your skull trying to separate itself between the lines.

I also find that wearing dark sunglasses (especially the ones that wrap around the face) helps to keep the light out especially when I have to go out in the sun or work inside with bright light. When looking someone in the eyes, I explain I have a migraine and do not remove those glasses. That light without the glasses will soon have me barfing over a trash can.because of the vomiting and nausea that comes with most migraines.

Sound Sensitivity (especially when it is loud or piercing)

Loud noise will often cause pain to seep through the membranes of my ear drums and hit my brain head on at 100 miles per hour (or so it seems). The first thing I do is hook up my ear phones (buds or over the ears-doesn’t matter which) and play soft music. Of course the soft music blaring in my ear would be counter-productive on my part so I keep the music playing very soft.

If that doesn’t help, or if you are out shopping or something and can’t use this trick, try using ear plugs. They help me to keep the volume down a great deal so I don’t have to run screaming from a store or have my family move out for the day. (Or, I guess you could have your family move out for the day, lol). Getting family to be quiet is one thing, but you can’t have the outside move out for the day. They insist on playing loud music, mowing their lawn, or seeming to have loud meetings right under your window. Using heavy blankets on the windows might help to keep some of the noise down to a dull roar as well as keeping the light out: at least it does for me. And don’t forget those ear plugs!

Some over-the-counter items that might help

Aspirin is a usual choice because aspirin thins the blood so that the blood can flow a bit easier and thus ease the swelling of the blood vessels. Don’t take too much though, stick to the recommended dose. Or you could try acetaminophen instead (popular brand name: Tylenol). It can help with the pain (though I’m not sure how). I know that too much acetaminophen can cause liver issues, so again stick to the recommended dosage.

My number one choice of over-the-counter medication is Excedrine Migraine. It contains all of the above. It has about 250 mg of acetaminophen, 250 mg of aspirin, and 65 mg of caffeine. If I feel a migraine or a bad headache coming on, that’s the item I reach for. Sometimes it can take as little as 30 minutes for the headache to ease up. And sometimes it can keep a migraine at bay so I can at least try to function.

This poll is silly, and is meant to get a smile. Migraines are not silly, and I hope those who have never had one, never get one!

Do migraines exist?

See results without voting

These are only suggestions that have worked for me.

They don’t always take the pain away but they do ease it up a bit (for me anyway). Do I have prescription medication I can take? Yes, but it makes me drowsy, takes a long time to begin working and causes me to ache all over. If I can ease the headache enough so I can rest or function somewhat without taking it, I prefer to do that. Of course grabbing a sleeping mask, ear plugs and a bag of frozen peas can't hurt. I know everyone is different, and that these steps may not help; I know I felt pretty silly the first time I put a bag of frozen peas on my head. Truth of the matter is, it worked and that was what made the difference.

I hope these ideas help when you find the tiny sparkles or whatever you get to warn you of an oncoming migraine popping up.

© 2014 Cheryl Simonds

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Please share your thoughts with me and my other readers. 8 comments

Rebeccasutton profile image

Rebeccasutton 2 years ago from Rock Hill, SC

Excedrin is the way to go! Also, I have found the Goody powder or "BC" is VERY helpful for immediate relief of pain. It is already powdered and when you hold it under your tongue before you wash it down, it gets into your system faster.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Sorry to hear about you migraines. Some of the same things help me: a gel ice pack (especially at the base of the neck), making the room pitch black, turning off all sound, eliminating smells, aspirin or BC rather than expensive migraine meds, lots of water (since headaches are often associated with dehydration), and as much sleep as I can get. Typically I can at least dull it down with good quality sleep.

Rebeccasutton profile image

Rebeccasutton 2 years ago from Rock Hill, SC

That sounds like me! I do the same things. I agree about the water. I have found if I have a dizzy migraine, it's because of dehydration.

carter06 profile image

carter06 2 years ago from Cronulla NSW

Aspirin works for me so does a dark room and frozen peas(not silly at all:)

Thanks for these tips cheryl ..from one migraine sufferer to another we need all the help we can get..I have been known to wear dark glasses out @ night as well to avoid bright light even on recovery days..will send this to my daughter who has been plagued by migraines at times.. and will share..Cheers

cherylone profile image

cherylone 2 years ago from Connecticut Author

Rebeccasutton, Thanks for the comment. I have tried so many ways, but I never heard of Goody powder. I will try to find it so I can try it. Don't you just hate migraines?

cherylone profile image

cherylone 2 years ago from Connecticut Author

FlourishAnyway, though it is sad to hear about someone else's migraines, it is nice to know you are not alone. I do actually drink lots of water and I especially like it cold. It hits the inside of the neck while the ice hits the back of the neck. I also get as much sleep as I can; sometimes that isn't good quality, but sleep none-the-less. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

cherylone profile image

cherylone 2 years ago from Connecticut Author

Yes, dehydration is also one of the causes of a migraine. Aren't we lucky to have such things???NOT. Thanks again for commenting.

cherylone profile image

cherylone 2 years ago from Connecticut Author

carter06, thanks for the shares, I hope it helps others who suffer the debilitating pain that a migraine gives. You are right about the sun glasses on recovery days. Sometimes you feel so tired and drained while your eyes keep trying to pop out, right? You are also right that we migraine sufferers need all the help we can get.

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