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Your Best Tips for Migraine Management

Your Best Tips for Migraine Management

We all know there is no “one size treats all” approach to migraine management, but sharing personal tips and tricks can often be helpful.  At Migraine.com, we’re typically in the position of offering opinions from our incredible team of patient advocates and physician experts.  Recently we decided to see what advice YOU – our community – had to share.  So we asked our Facebook followers, “What’s the best ‘migraine advice’ you’ve ever received?”

While the number one comment was “decapitation” (something we would not recommend!), we did receive an incredible number of helpful suggestions that we want to share.

Various treatments for migraine relief

Many community members found relief with specific medications ranging from preventative treatments, prescription abortives to over the counter pain medications. Others noted that getting off medications – either because of medication overuse headache or hormonal problems (specifically with birth control) – helped their migraines.


A variety of complementary/alternative or natural remedies were mentioned including chiropractic treatment, melatonin for sleep, peppermint oil, massage, acupuncture, magnesium, vitamin B2, lavender oil, apple cider vinegar, and Vicks rub…just to name a few.  Although several comments cited caffeine as a great way to treat an attack, an equal number suggested removing caffeine from the diet altogether.

Community’s best migraine advice

So what’s the best “migraine advice” you’ve ever received? Take a look at the list from our community below and share your own advice in the comments:

Treat early

  • Wishing it isn’t [a migraine] isn’t going to change that you are having a migraine – Take your medication NOW 
  • Take something the minute you feel a migraine starting – Treat early! 
  • Take an anti-nausea medication along with your migraine medication 

Wear sunglasses

Get enough rest during an attack

  • Sleep, sleep, sleep and don’t get up until it’s gone
  • Stop trying to persevere through it. If it doesn’t respond quickly, sleep through it  
  • Rest in a dark room 

Know your triggers

  • Tracking, tracking, tracking. Knowing your triggers is so important

Get the right treatment

Stick to a schedule and practice good sleep hygiene

  • Eating and sleeping regularly
  • Don’t watch a lot of TV before going to bed
  • Take your migraine preventives at the same time every day 

Find the right support system and be supportive of others

  • Read the journey of other people so I don’t feel so alone 
  • If the people around you won’t support you, surround yourself with those who will 
  • Stay away from people who make your blood pressure rise 
  • As a parent: love your kid through it 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help 

Don’t let others bother you

  • Don’t worry about what other people think when I need to just take care of myself 
  • Learning not to buy into the stigma society puts on us. We are not lazy. We are sick. 

Avoid strong smells

  • Let people know if something [scented] they consistently wear is one of my migraine triggers 
  • Clean with natural products (no scented anything)! 

Practice relaxation techniques

  • Meditate
  • Imagine the pain as a big button. Then with each breath out, try to get the button to go down a little. If it goes back up, do not panic. Just keep trying.
  • Take 15 minutes a day to meditate and let go of all the stress 
  • Reminding myself it’s temporary allows me to rest 
  • Breathe through the pain and recall a pleasant memory 
  • [Listen to] low soothing music to relax 

Check for other underlying conditions

  • Once I treated my anxiety my migraine frequency decreased 
  • I found out I had Chiari Malformation… my migraines are almost nothing now.
  • [Allergy testing] showed issues with food I didn’t know I had 

Evaluate your diet

  • Consider avoiding common migraine triggers – gluten, MSG, aspartame, tyramine
  • Paying attention to how the things I eat make me feel 
  • Go gluten free and don’t eat refined sugar…I’ve changed my diet and my migraines have been reduced by about 40%
  • Eat clean 

Heat or cold therapy

  • Take a hot bath/shower (“hot bath followed by cool air”) 
  • My PCP once told me to heat my feet and freeze my head….I couldn’t help but laugh, but sometimes it works 
  • Brush my teeth in cold water 
  • Ice cream headache! 

Take care of yourself 

  • Walk daily (at least 30 minutes) 
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Quit smoking 
  • Enjoy the good days while you don’t have a migraine! 

Educate yourself

  • “The Migraine Brain”…AWESOME book! I cannot recommend it enough!
  • Listen to your body – learn your signs, warnings, and symptoms. Act quickly and aggressively. JOURNAL.

As always, talk to your doctor before trying any new treatments or migraine preventive methods. Please share your “migraine advice” in the comments!

Comments

  • Jackie
    5 years ago

    What I would like to know does anyone experience fatigue with migraines? At some point during an attack I will fall asleep any time of the day especially after painful ones with the all onboard symptoms of vomiting, sensitivity to light, smell and so on and they have become a every other day issue.

  • Falcon6
    2 weeks ago

    Yes! It is like I have no choice but to go to sleep. My body just won’t go anymore!

  • maryanne59
    11 months ago

    Hi Jackie: Yes! Especially now that I’m getting older- 59. Starting migraine at age 38, a couple years after neck trauma and subsequent surgery. Also, as I get older, I can’t just take my meds and then go about my day like I used to.

  • Stacy Dalton
    5 years ago

    I wanted to share that I’ve been migraine free for 4.5 months. I’ve even felt that the triggers were there – like I could feel my brain trying to muster up a migraine and auras, but just couldn’t. It was very weird. The only thing I’ve changed is using a new probiotic and detox…and a supplement that regulates my blood sugar (I also had hypoglycemic seizures when I was younger – I’m now 42). That’s amazing for me. I don’t know which supplement has made the difference. I don’t really care.

  • Katrina Burgoyne
    6 years ago

    My #1 aid is essential oil of frankincense. I also have had helpful results with ginger and hot-and-cold foot soaks (hot as you can stand it until something changes, then ice water). Another sufferer I know uses heat therapy against their eyes.
    Another major item of advice I would give is sometimes triggers are really weird. My worst trigger is electromagnetic field, and about the worst ever thing I can do is talk on my cell phone when it is charging, except for maybe getting an MRI–that sure made the evaluation after a car accident exiting XP

  • Elizabeth
    6 years ago

    I was diagnosed this past year with atypical migraines, having migraine aura without headache. The road to diagnosis was long and scary as my symptoms are similar to stroke symptoms when I get a migraine, but with no headache. After going to a neurologist that was stumped for a year and two overnight hospital stays for testing and observation during severe symptoms, I tried a chiropractor for the first time in my life. The treatment was perfect for me. My chiropractor took xrays of my neck and back and found several issues that were causing irritation to my nerve function. I went through treatment including a traction table to loosen tense muscles in my back and neck that feels wonderful, electostimulation to my neck and back and chiropractic adjustments, as well as having the massotherapist do deep tissue massage to muscle spasms in my neck and back that were causing nerve problems as well. I did so well with this that I was then able to go on to begin a healthy and progressive fitness program and lost 23 pounds since July with some good dietary changes that have improved my overall health and well being immensely. My incidence of migraine symptoms has dramatically lessened and the last time I had symptoms flare up I went in to get adjusted during the migraine episode. My chiropractor worked out a tight muscle spasm in my neck using something called Active Release Technique similar to deep tendon massage applied specifically to the affected area. It was so relieving and very helpful. Felt considerably better by the time I left the clinic and resolved by the next day. And, over the course of my treatment, he was able to take me off of my medications. I am truly grateful for this answer to my symptoms. I hope this is helpful for others who have not considered chiropractic treatment as an option.

  • brittmax
    6 years ago

    I found out that food allergies were my biggest trigger. I was having vestibular migraine with vertigo, and was so sick all the time. Nothing was alleviating my migraines, and I mean NOTHING. Then I found out I had food allergies and my biggest allergen was wheat. Now, I’m steadily getting better. I would definitely recommend getting allergy tested, it was such a simple solution that has provided so much relief.

  • elialden12
    6 years ago

    I was having 6-8 two or three day migraines a month, until I went gluten and dairy free! I still get migraines, but they are MUCH less frequent (maybe every 4-5 weeks), don’t last as long (usually less than a day), and are usually less severe. Oh….and as a bonus, I lost 40 pounds 🙂

  • kischrjo
    6 years ago

    Since i suffer from chronic daily migraine and rarely have a day that is headache free i have found a few things that help. I do have trouble with strong perfumes but have found a few scents that are helpful such as lavender and lavender with vanilla. This is helpful at home when i can use pillow mists, candles etc but what about daily when i am at work? So i found this amazing metal steampunk necklace that is like a locket with holes in it. I just saturate a piece of felt with my aromatherapy and open the locket and set inside, it has a magnetic closure. This way i can smell it but it doesn’t bother others. I have also found i respond to heat on the back of my neck and during bad days i use a therma patch and a turtleneck. Once i am home i am free to use other methods. I got the necklace on amazon.

  • elialden12
    6 years ago

    Great idea!!! Better than walking around sniffing from my bottle of peppermint oil!!

  • Jill M.
    6 years ago

    I love the necklace idea – genius! I make jewelry, so I’ll have to make a trip to my local Michael’s to find a locket….

  • UmmKittehs
    6 years ago

    One of the things that irritates me to no end is when others give me advice, which I realize seems counter intuitive, considering the topic of this post. Aspartame DOESN’T trigger migraines in me, but other artificial sweeteners do. And so, my best advice is, “Try to listen to others, but if their advice is contrary to what YOUR experience is, it is your body, not theirs. Smile, and contemplate pillow therapy.”
    And consider Magnesium supplementation!

  • Stacy Dalton
    5 years ago

    Yes…magnesium. Also, probiotics for me!

  • Vicki
    6 years ago

    The #1 tip has always been to attack back asap. But sometimes my headaches, though having the usual light sensitivity and sometimes sound, don’t continue to a full-on migraine. Sometimes they do. If I get that familiar sharp, pressure pain, then I know it’s war time and I take an abortive. ALL of my headaches are of varying degrees, but I can take something each and every time I feel pain….it doesn’t do much good anyway! So, generally, I do have to ignore some of my warning signals.

    The Topamax does help a lot, even with the “lower grade” headaches. I’m thankful for that. Soon, I will be trying the vapor cig. to at least try to cut back on smoking. I’m anxious to see how that will help me!

  • Jill M.
    6 years ago

    Have you tried ice (cold pack) therapy, or even heat therapy? I try not to always take something each time either as I’ve had MOH (rebound headaches), and I definitely don’t want to go back there! Sometimes, using a cold rice pack at the site of the pain will help enough that I can avoid medication.

    Good luck to you! I took Topamax for almost 2 years and it worked great! Had to switch to Zonegran, though, due to intolerable side effects, but that’s working well also.

  • Vicki
    6 years ago

    *CAN’T take something each time.

  • zippy36
    6 years ago

    I too have tried to ignore my warning signals that a migraine was on the way. The main reason I do this is because I do not want to take the medication or lie down. If I do not take the medicine or lie down then I end up with an all out migraine sometimes lasting for 3 to 4 days. I have learned to just give in. By doing so, I either keep my headache at bay with just a little pain or the headache goes away completely.

  • maryanne59
    11 months ago

    So happy for you Stacey ! May it last forever!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi zippy36,

    It takes a while to understand that migraine cannot be ignored even when we try so hard to do so.

    Playing ostrich in the sand, I’ve learned, doesn’t work with migraine disease…..

    Nancy

  • deborah fayette
    6 years ago

    I have read this post, Best Tips for Migraine Management, with great interest. I have suffered from chronic migraine for 15 years, with precious few periods of respite. I found just one suggestion I had not yet tried, and came to the conclusion it was an advertisement disguised as a comment (some reference to a food grade insecticide–Really?).
    I have sought relief through traditional Western Medicine, and every alternative treatment offered. It would take a book to cover the treatments I have tried. One year ago, after two Botox treatments failed to provide relief, I was told there is nothing left. It was me and narcotic pain meds against the migraines, and the migraines were winning.

    It was obvious that hormones played a huge role. The headaches were controllable for a few weeks at a time, but invariably my hormone cycle would devastate the recovery. At the age of 52, I underwent an Oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). 24 hours after the procedure my chronic headache was gone.

    Three weeks after surgery I began a fresh food only diet(organic as much a possible), went gluten free, and continue to eat tyramine free. The diet is daunting, but now, five weeks from surgery, the occasional headaches are continuing to decline in numbers. I feel better than I have in 15 years, and am hoping when the nerves are completely healed I will be nearly headache free.

  • Holly
    5 years ago

    That is wonderful! I am happy for you. I am in that place of the doctors giving up on me. I am 50 and have had these since I was 18.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi deborah,

    I’m happy to hear you’ve seen a reduction in your migraine frequency and severity. Removing some of your strong triggers seems be working in your favor.

    We are seeing there may be a link between gluten and migraine but more research needs to be done on it, and we all know about tyramine. Here is information on gluten and migraine you may find interesting; http://migraine.com/blog/gluten-and-migraine-is-there-a-link/.

    Nancy

  • Amy Bilby
    6 years ago

    Everytime i think I have my triggers picked out I seem to age out of them. I’m 44 and had something done to stop or at least slow done that time of the month and it worked but now my migraines have changed. Told my doc who didnt seem to care but gives lots of samples.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi Amy,

    It’s not uncommon for our triggers and migraine patterns to change as we age.

    If you feel your doctor isn’t listening to you, maybe it is time to find one who will? https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/

    Nancy

  • MigraineSavvy
    6 years ago

    I have bookmarked this page to come back to. Someone else suggested printing it out. Yes! Yes! Ok – my best migraine management is all in this article: act fast (I tend to wait until the pain is too bad)and take my meds, get the ice packs on my neck, get the hot water bottle on my hands, and rest. Thank you for saying don’t push through it, I tried that for years, and well … its still a tendency. Part of me still believes that if I just think positive it will go away. That never happens – over 20 years now. Hang in there everybody. xx

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi MigraineSavvy,

    I don’t know what it is or why we do it, but pushing through a migraine isn’t a good idea. I have to keep myself in check from time to time. For me, I think it may have been the way I was raised. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had a great upbringing, but there was not the time or money to get sick. So we pushed through!

    Nancy

  • arden
    6 years ago

    Check on your phobias (triggers) now and then. For example, I denied myself sugar and sweet things for years thinking they were triggers. There is no scientific evidence for any triggers – they are totally subjective and based on consensus, not tests. Not to say they dont exist, but they should be personally tested out now and then. So now I eat ice cream and occasional sweet things with no adverse consequences.It took some nerve to overcome my built in fear of sweets because of something I read somewhere or just decided on my own incomplete information. The point is, one can deprive oneself of so many things hoping to ward off a baddy, but maybe all these fears are unfounded and add up to more anxiety. PS, I still can’t eat chocolate fearlessly! Maybe someday.

  • MigraineSavvy
    6 years ago

    Hey Arden – good point! I just started eating oranges again and no change in the migraines. I thought citrus was a trigger. But you are right … not a high percentage of migraine is due to food. But I know chocolate is definitely a trigger. It only takes once or twice to find this out for sure!!!

  • mjsymonds
    6 years ago

    These are such great tips (and even though I “know” them all) I’m going to print this out, post a copy on my fridge and carry a copy in my purse! I’m also going to give a copy to every doctor I know.

    Thank you so much for putting this together.

  • MigraineSavvy
    6 years ago

    Yes MJ – thanks for saying that. I will do that too – print it out. I need reminders. What a great article.

  • Dee
    6 years ago

    Love this article. Very inspiring to keep at it. It covers it all.

  • Frances
    6 years ago

    Contact your doctor if your treatment strategies aren’t working.

  • lesliejohnson
    6 years ago

    Ditch the guilt.

  • MigraineSavvy
    6 years ago

    I am finding this easier said than done!!!!

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