When a migraine attack strikes, all you want is to feel better. Migraine medication may help alleviate discomfort in certain people, according to Janine Good, MD, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
However, is there anything more you can do to help lessen the duration of the attack or to make the symptoms more bearable until the medication takes effect?
If you require migraine first aid, the following tips may help. The majority of these therapies are free and have no adverse effects.
Table of Contents
1. Find a Quiet, Dark Room to Rest
Many patients who suffer from migraine report sensitivity to light and sound, which can aggravate their migraines. According to a study published in Nature Neuroscience, light-induced pain is triggered by a group of light-sensing cells in the eye called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which assist in the maintenance of sleep-wake cycles and pupil response to light. In rats, these cells converge on pain-transmitting brain cells.
Light activates the ipRGC cells and pain-transmitting cells, and the cells stay activated for several minutes after being exposed to light. The researchers hypothesise that this process explains why headache pain worsens in the light and improves after 20 to 30 minutes in the dark.
Dr. Good says that if you go to a dark, quiet room, you may be able to sleep. “While not all headaches react to sleep,” she observes, the chemicals released in the brain during sleep may help alleviate the pain. Additionally, she notes that if you are hypersensitive to sounds, keeping them out may assist.
2. Compress Your Head or Neck with a Warm or Cold Compress
Compress your forehead or the back of your neck with a warm or cold compress.
“Many of my patients prefer a cold compress,” says Lawrence C. Newman, MD, director of the division of headache at New York University Langone Medical Center and a board member of the American Migraine Foundation.
Cold can be numbing. “It diverts the brain’s attention away from the migraine,” Good explains. “You’re stimulating other nerve endings in the area where the compress is applied.”
To protect your skin, place a cloth between it and the ice pack, and if you use a commercial cold pack, check for leaks that could allow chemicals to escape and potentially hurt your eyes, according to the University of Michigan Health.
According to Dr. Newman, some people prefer a warm compress. Heat can aid in the relaxation of tight muscles. Additionally, you may like to take a warm bath or shower.
3. Adequate Hydration
According to the American Migraine Foundation, almost one in three patients who suffer from migraines attribute their headaches to dehydration. Keeping hydrated in between attacks may thus assist to prevent some.
When a migraine attack begins, rigorous hydration may help reduce the duration of the assault, according to Roderick Spears, MD, a neurologist and headache expert at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. “Drinking plenty of water can be beneficial,” he explains.
Are you having difficulty drinking enough water? Consider adding a piece of lemon or lime to simple water or a little amount of fruit juice. When your water tastes better, you’re more likely to drink it.
Also Read: 6 Natural Tips to Prevent Diabetes
4. Give Your Temples A Massage
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, massage can help your muscles relax and has been studied for pain management in a variety of illnesses, including headache.
Whether or not this is beneficial depends on the individual, Newman says. Certain individuals suffering from migraines may be highly sensitive to touch, and a massage may exacerbate their symptoms. This is especially true for patients who suffer from allodynia, a very common symptom of migraine in which individuals are extremely sensitive to touch and other non-painful stimuli.
Allodynia, according to the American Migraine Foundation, can make even routine tasks like combing your hair or resting your head on a pillow extremely uncomfortable.
5. Consider meditating
According to Rebecca Wells, MD, an associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina and director of the comprehensive headache programme, up to 8 in 10 persons with migraine report that stress is a trigger for their headaches.
By focusing on what is happening in the present moment, mindfulness meditation can help people manage stress differently, she says.
“One example that everyone might use is concentrating on a sensation such as the breath,” she explains. It’s common to experience ideas and feelings while practising mindfulness meditation; Dr. Wells advocates noticing them and then returning your attention to your breath.
The researchers are examining whether exercising this form of mindfulness can alter a person’s ability to respond to stress and thus aid in migraine management. Wells and colleagues discovered in a 2020 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that mindfulness meditation may help reduce the total burden of migraine in some persons by improving disability, quality of life, and depression.
6. Inhale the Lavender scent
Lavender’s smell may have a relaxing effect, which may aid with stress relief. A scientific experiment published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research discovered that four weeks of aromatherapy with lavender essential oil significantly alleviated postpartum women’s stress, anxiety, and depression.
Additionally, lavender oil has been studied as a migraine therapy. A tiny study published in the journal European Neurology assessed the use of lavender essential oil in migraine sufferers. In a placebo-controlled research, participants who inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes reported a higher reduction in the severity of their headaches than those who did not.
7. Exercise Can Help Prevent Attacks
While exercising during a migraine attack can exacerbate the discomfort, exercising between attacks may help you have fewer attacks.
Contrary to popular assumption, exercise does not cause migraines in the majority of people, according to Dale Bond, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Providence’s Miriam Hospital and Brown Alpert Medical School.
“In terms of aerobic activity, we often advise our patients to begin with walking – it’s simple, safe, inexpensive, and convenient — and to do so regularly,” Bond explains.
This may help to alleviate migraine and prevent attacks through physiological mechanisms, such as lowering inflammation and boosting cardiovascular health, he explains.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise can also aid with stress reduction and sleep improvement (CDC).
The Bottom Line
When combined with medication, these home cures and lifestyle measures benefit a large number of patients, according to Newman. If they do not alleviate your discomfort, you may choose to speak with your doctor about modifying your migraine treatment plan.