MIGRAINE: Using an Acronym to Feel Better
Last updated: March 2021
I’ve always loved to play around with letters and numbers - I don’t know why. Today I got to thinking, I wonder if the word MIGRAINE could be broken up into a kind of treatment plan. It took me a minute or two to come up with the perfect plan. When you feel an attack coming on, what can you do? Let’s break it down. Now, just a caveat. Follow the treatment instructions provided by your headache specialist. These are just some general tips and things that have worked for me.
- M - Medication
- I - Ice
- G - Go home
- R - Rest
- A - App
- I - Ignore
- N - Nourishment
- E - Evaluate
How far in advance do you know when a migraine attack is about to hit?
Let's go one by one:
When I feel an attack coming on, the quicker I get some medication in me, the faster the migraine will go away. I personally take Excedrin Migraine, and I keep little bottles in my purse, in the kitchen, in my room, and even in the car (in cooler months), so that I’m never too far away from my medicine. Ask your doctor what medication is best for you, if you don't already have an OTC or Rx medication plan in place.
Putting some ice on the spot where my head hurts the most is always helpful. A bag of frozen peas that can mold to the shape of your head is always comfortable. Because I usually don’t have a bag of frozen peas, I’ll go with a lunchbox ice pack. While I’m at it, I’ll usually pour a glass of soda over ice (ice serves two purposes). The caffeine helps my migraine, too.
If you’re not already home, a migraine attack is a very good reason to go home immediately, before the pain gets even worse. For me, it’s important to go home, so I can get to the next step.
It’s so true, what I’ve heard over the years - rest in a cool, dark, quiet room. When I get a migraine, I just want to curl up in my room, or even on the sofa. The lights really bother my eyes when I have a migraine, so the “dark” part is really important. Sometimes, when I have a migraine, noise can really get to me, too. So, finding a cool, dark, quiet place to rest is essential. It’s also a great time to tell my husband to order some dinner for himself and the kids - I’m not cooking!
If you use an app to track your migraine patterns, and you are up for it, record as much information as you can in the app, while it’s fresh in your mind. If you just can’t stand the bright light of the phone, forget about it, and do it later.
Now is the time to ignore everything that is not an emergency. Ignore the piles of laundry and dishes. It will all be there waiting for you when you feel better. Forget about your to-do list. That will wait, too. Now is the time to focus on resting and getting better.
When you are feeling up for it, think about eating. If you have foods that trigger migraine attacks, you obviously want to avoid those foods. When you don’t feel well, it’s easy to forget to eat. But, if you go too long without eating, that could trigger a migraine attack as well. Even if it’s just some toast and fruit, a light snack or meal can be very helpful. Ask a family member to make it for you if you’re not up for it! And, don't forget to stay hydrated - drink water to maintain hydration.
Last but not least, when you feel better, evaluate. Complete the information in your app or journal. Try to think about what triggered the migraine. Did you go too long without eating? Not sleep enough? Too much stress? Always follow up with your headache specialist with any questions or concerns.
Again, these are some general tips that work for me. Everyone is different. You may have a similar routine or a completely different one. What works for you when you feel an attack coming on?
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?