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What to Do for a Migraine

Updated on July 3, 2020
Lisha C profile image

Lisha has been dealing with migraines for as long as she can remember.

Living with Migraines

Ever been stuck at school or the office with a migraine and wished that you could just magically reach your bed at home without having to face that dreaded commute? Sadly, almost everyone who suffers from migraines knows this feeling.

The worst part about a migraine is that sometimes nothing can be done to get rid of it completely. It just needs to be waited out—for hours on end, sometimes maybe even days. However, there are a few ways to help ease the pain.

Migraines often come out of the blue and interfere with everyday activities.
Migraines often come out of the blue and interfere with everyday activities. | Source

Why Do I Get Migraines?

Everyone's body reacts differently. While certain things can wreak havoc for some, others aren't even the slightest bit affected by them. Having dealt with migraines my entire life, I must say that I am quite envious of those who say that they can't even remember the last time that they had a headache.

People often focus on what to do after getting a migraine. However, the most important thing to concentrate on is why. Why do I get migraines? The triggers and causes of migraines generally vary from person to person. Since there is no single cause, it is highly beneficial that every person individually tries to pinpoint the exact cause. It is better to identify the cause and try to avoid it than to just focus on finding ways to deal with the problem.

Here are some of the causes for migraines:

  1. Irregular eating habits: Skipping meals or not eating anything for long intervals of time can be harmful. For some, this just means that they are hungry; everything is back to normal immediately after eating. However, for the unlucky others, it's not that simple and can lead to hours and hours of pain.
  2. Drinking insufficient water: Dehydration is a common cause of migraines. Drinking water regularly and in sufficient quantities can help to avoid migraines. It's helpful to keep track of your daily water intake and also try to increase it gradually.
  3. Lack of sleep: Sleeping for less than average hours at night could cause a migraine the next day. Ideally, it is always better to sleep and wake up at the same time. Having a regular sleep schedule can be beneficial.
  4. Too much sun: Roaming around outside in the sun, especially in the summer months, may not be the best idea. If it is unavoidable, ensure that you carry necessary accessories like a hat, a pair of sunglasses or maybe even an umbrella to protect you from the sun.
  5. Straining your eyes: In this day and age, it is quite hard to survive a day without any screen time. However, straining yourself for hours together on phones, tablets and laptops without adequate breaks can end in severe migraines.
  6. Certain foods: Consuming certain food items have also been known to cause migraines. Caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, food preservatives and artificial sweeteners are some common triggers. These can often be difficult to track as the food triggers can vary widely depending on each individual.

  7. Travel: While travelling, it is always better to take extra precautions in case you are prone to migraines. A migraine is the quickest way to spoil any travel plans. You could very easily end up skipping a meal, forgetting to drink sufficient water or not getting enough sleep. Plan things well and try to follow a schedule as much as possible.
  8. Stress: Stressful environments at school, work or home can also be to blame. Slogging for long hours to complete a task can build up stress and mental exertion. Work efficiently and try to avoid pushing things to the last minute.

The blinding pain that comes with a migraine is almost unbearable.
The blinding pain that comes with a migraine is almost unbearable. | Source

10 Tips to Get Relief From the Pain

Here are 10 ways to cope and help ease the pain.

  1. Resting in a dark room: In the case of migraines, there is usually light sensitivity. A good way to get some relief is to lie down in a dark room away from any disturbances. Draw the curtains to prevent any outside light from getting in and switch off all room lights. Most of the time, simply turning off the lights may not be enough. A stream of light may enter from under a door or through a window, which cannot be blocked completely. This is something which would ordinarily go unnoticed. However, since having a migraine makes you overly sensitive to light, even the small, usually irrelevant things get amplified and can cause even more discomfort. Use an eye-mask, cloth or pillow to cover your eyes completely.
  2. No sudden movements: The worst thing is being stuck somewhere and having to commute back home with a migraine. If you have the option of asking someone to take you back home, you should definitely do so. They can get you home with minimal disturbances and movements since they are aware of your condition. When commuting, the most you could do is to try putting a bit of pressure on the throbbing side and just keep breathing deeply. Even though vehicle movements are one of the worst things to deal with when you have a migraine, somehow, it can usually be managed until you reach home. I often feel that maybe it's the anticipation of reaching home and getting into bed that keeps me going. However, on reaching home, things almost always take a turn for the worse. Sometimes it's literally the moment you step in the door. At times like these, it's probably best to head straight to bed. Make sure to grab things that you might need on the way—a painkiller, water, maybe a juice, some loose-fitting clothes. You don't want to be getting out of bed unnecessarily. Be sure to do everything slowly—changing into comfortable clothes, lying down, getting up, walking, etc. Avoid bending over and moving your head too much.
  3. Applying pressure to the side that hurts: Migraines usually affect only one side of the head at a time, though in some cases it could be both sides. Lie down on the side which hurts so that there is a bit of pressure, giving some temporary relief. Getting a head massage from your near and dear can also be soothing.
  4. Taking a painkiller: If you're lucky, a painkiller can help get rid of the pain. A painkiller has a higher chance of being effective if taken during the early stages of the migraine. People who have a ton of experience with migraines can probably judge when a painkiller would help and when it would not.
  5. Using a cold compress: Using an ice pack or a cold damp cloth on your forehead can sometimes be helpful. An ice pack has a numbing effect, which helps to alleviate the pain. However, they should not be used for lengthy periods, ideally only 10-15 minutes at a time. Even simple things like switching to the cool side of your pillow can help quite a bit.
  6. Avoiding strong smells: Stay away from any strong smells—foods, perfumes, paints, etc. These can aggravate the migraine and cause or intensify nausea and vomiting.
  7. Avoiding gadgets: Migraine symptoms can increase drastically with continued use of phones, tablets, laptops or TVs. The bright lights and constant movement can aggravate the symptoms. Avoid reading or anything that can cause eyestrain.
  8. Throwing up helps: Migraines are quite often accompanied by nausea, making them worse to deal with. You are hungry, having not eaten a thing for hours, but the sight or even thought of food is just unimaginable. At times like these, it is better to not fight the nausea and just throw up. This can get rid of the nausea feeling and often ease the pain. You can sometimes even feel almost completely better within minutes of throwing up.
  9. Getting a good night's sleep: Often, the migraine goes away after a good sleep, and the next morning you are as good as new. Well, almost—there is usually the dull migraine hangover which lasts for a while. The problem, however, is how to sleep when your head feels like it is about to explode. Hopefully, you can first get a bit of relief from some of the already mentioned methods. If not, it is best to try and concentrate on slow, deep breathing.
  10. Seeking help from others: Let the people around you know your struggle and tell them what helps you feel better. It is hard for people to relate if they have not experienced it, and they might not understand the severity of it. Even if they cannot help to reduce the actual pain, they can sympathize with you and make sure that you have what you need.

Hopefully a new day comes with a fresh, migraine-less start.
Hopefully a new day comes with a fresh, migraine-less start. | Source

Have You Ever Experienced a Migraine?

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Migraine Do's and Don'ts

Rest in a dark, quiet room.
Ignore initial warnings or signs of an oncoming migraine.
Apply pressure to the throbbing side.
Move suddenly and unnecessarily.
Use a cold compress.
Be around strong smells.
Take a pain killer, if necessary.
Use gadgets.
Relax and try to go to sleep.
Continue working or cause eyestrain.
Ask for help.
Lose hope!

Find and Avoid the Triggers

Migraine sufferers—you are not alone. Try to figure out the reason or reasons that affect you. If you know of any uncommon causes which lead to your migraines, be sure to share this with others so that they too can be cautious. The best way to deal with migraines is to take care and avoid the triggers in the first place.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Lisha C


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