What's In Your Toolbox? Migraine-Friendly Products
Last updated: September 2021
With an often overwhelming array of “products” that either claim to help migraine or make life more manageable, it can be hard to know where to start. In fact, it’s easy to throw our hands up and say, “This is simply too much” and end up relying only on pharmaceutical options.
Taking control of migraine
However, with a disease that takes so much away from us, retaining (or regaining) that locus of control is crucial. Taking back control of the things that we can is EMPOWERING! One of the ways we can do that is by courageously exploring options that may be helpful to us. This is especially true until that much-longed-for day comes when a miracle happens and a cure for migraine is discovered.
Overwhelmed by all of the options?
It’s not surprising that there are endless products offered to help us.
Many, many symptoms
After all, we live with a disease which includes a wide array of symptoms besides head pain such as nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, allodynia, dizziness, fatigue, and neck pain. Each one of these opens the door to creativity when it comes to a toolbox approach to migraine management.
Many, many triggers
On top of that, individual migraine attacks can be triggered by light, sound, hormones, smells, weather, food, sleep, and exercise, to name just a few. Again, each one of these increases the opportunity for non-pharmaceutical options to help with management.
Migraine products and alternative treatments
Theoretically, there could be a place in YOUR toolbox for something from each one of the following categories – maybe more than one! In addition, one of the best things about all these products is that they integrate well with alternative treatments. Adding some of these to your toolbox in addition to acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and pharmaceutical treatments can often make a very real difference. A difference that can impact pain frequency, the severity of attacks, anxiety, sleep, or just simple comfort while living with a disease that robs so many of so much.
Tips for exploring new products
As you look through the categories below, here are some tips that may be helpful to you:
- Take one step at a time. Slowly, slowly is the name of the game!
- Ask others for feedback on what helps them. However…
- Bear in mind that everyone is different and what helps one person may make another worse.
- Try things to see if they help. If they don’t, consider passing them on to a friend to try!
- Don’t give up too soon! Not only are we all different, but our individual attacks can be varied too.
- Finally, whenever possible, look at the return policy before purchasing to see if a product can be returned for a refund if necessary!
For many people these are a very real and viable intervention for migraine, with the most common ones being lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint. Bear in mind, however, that essential oils are also very challenging. While some people discover relief from them, others find that they are migraine triggers! Alternatively, you may find that one helps you while all others can trigger an attack. With essential oils it can really be a matter of trial and error, testing one option at a time.
An often ignored aspect of life with migraine, clothing can truly play an important role. For many of us migraine has brought in its wake something called allodynia. Soft, label-free, stretchy clothing often become essential rather than optional! In addition, even without allodynia, when we are in pain comfort is key! Clothing can help raise awareness of the disease we live with and help start important conversations, or it can be inspirational and encouraging to us. Options range from shirts to leggings, inspirational socks, and much more!
Not only is it often challenging to sleep during a migraine attack, but sleep disorders are comorbid with the disease. Adding an orthopedic pillow, soft blanket, weighted blanket, or eye mask can make all the difference. These products can help improve sleep, speed up recovery time, and also simply provide comfort while trying to survive an acute attack.
There seems to be something offered in every shape and size for this category. Many people recommend ice packs to bring relief to painful necks or facial pain, and several products can even go around your head to wear during an attack. On the opposite end of the spectrum are various types of heat packs including face and eye masks, neck wraps, and heated blankets. For some people, just hot or just cold products will help the most. However, others will find that they respond best when creatively using both. For example, using a cold face mask while wearing a heated wrap around your neck!
Non-prescription “devices” are some of the most popular products currently being promoted to help with migraine. They can include FL-41 glasses, earplugs to help with weather changes or noise reduction, blue-light-blocking screens, face masks to protect from smells, acupressure and trigger point devices, massagers, smartwatches, and new on the scene is the green light Allay lamp. Unfortunately, the only way you will know if something is going to help you is by trying it yourself. However, many have generous return policies, and while nothing works for everyone, many things seem to help someone, and that someone could be you!
Last but definitely not least, we would be remiss if we didn’t include medication accessories on this list. Most of us rely on a variety of medications in order to help both prevent and treat migraine attacks. Having a good pill organizer is essential both to help remind us to take the medications we need on a daily basis and clear up the chaos caused by having multiple bottles on our bedside tables or kitchen counters. Travel pillboxes ensure that we have instant access to medication at any time, no matter where we are. They come in every size and shape imaginable ranging from the simplest to the most beautiful! Finally, the latest necessity for people with migraine comes thanks to the new CGRP inhibitor injections. These medications need to be kept cool until used. For those who are using one of these and are traveling, portable medication coolers provide peace of mind together with an easy way to keep things organized.
What works for you?
We would love to hear from you and get your ideas! What works for you and what doesn’t? What do you want to try that you haven’t? And, what are the challenges that stop you from trying something new?
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?