6 hacks for stopping a migraine in its tracks, according to experts
The onset of a migraine is a feeling that migraine sufferers know all too well, and the worst part is that we can anticipate exactly what’s coming next—the throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sounds, lightheadedness, and nausea. Although many people who suffer from migraines take preventive measures, it’s easy to feel completely powerless when the pain of a migraine sets in.
But not so fast—there are ways to stop a migraine in its tracks or, at the very least, mitigate its severity. Dr. C. Ann Conn, a Louisiana-based physician who specializes in headache medicine, neurology, and pain management, told HelloGiggles that time is of the essence when it comes to stopping a migraine.
“By observing the brain during a migraine with functional MRI, we know that a migraine initially involves only a small portion of the brain. As time passes, more of the brain becomes involved in a headache,” Conn explained. “Therefore, the best opportunity to treat a migraine is early in the headache process because less of the brain is involved and the brain is most responsive to treatment.”
Experts recommend trying the following hacks so you can say “not today, Satan” when you feel the warning signs that a migraine is coming on.
1Get into a quiet, dark room
Dr. Susan Hutchinson, headache specialist and medical advisor at MigraineX, told HelloGiggles that getting into a quiet, dark room and lying down with an ice pack on your neck or forehead can decrease the effects of external stimuli, such as bright light and noise, both of which can either trigger a migraine or aggravate one that’s already started.
“The ice can decrease the inflammation and swelling in the blood vessels, which can also help,” Hutchinson said. “[And] lying down can help with stress reduction, which can further help a migraine that has started.”
2Bathe in epsom salts
If you’re at home, Hutchinson recommends bathing in Epsom salts. They contain magnesium, which can help soothe an oncoming migraine and prevent future occurrences. Plus, the relaxation that often accompanies bathing can also help ease or stop the migraine.
3Drink a large glass of water
Hutchinson explained that staying hydrated every day can help prevent migraines. But when you feel a migraine coming on, reach for a large glass of water immediately—especially if you’re dehydrated or the weather is hot.
4Take your medication
Finding the right medication or combination of medications can involve a period of trial and error, because this type of treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all. “Most people will start first with an over-the-counter pain medication including acetaminophen, or an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, plus aspirin,” Dr. Darria Long Gillespie told HelloGiggles.
If you’ve found that OTC options aren’t enough, Gillespie recommended talking with your doctor about prescription migraine medications. If your migraines are accompanied by severe nausea or vomiting, there are even options that you can give yourself either subcutaneously or intra-nasally.
But there’s one type of medication that you should never take for migraines.
“Particularly in today’s age of the opioid epidemic, it bears repeating that narcotic medications are not helpful for migraines,” Gillespie said. “As an ER doctor, I’ve taken care of many a patient with such a severe migraine that they had to come to the ER, and we have many ways of stopping a migraine without narcotics. In fact, studies show that narcotic mediations actually increase the risk of developing chronic migraine, only making the problem worse.”
5Get a massage
If you prefer to treat your migraines without medication, Gillespie recommended head massages.
“Just choose methods that are more gentle, as opposed to vigorous vibration and tapping, particularly around the head and neck, since that can aggravate your discomfort,” she said.
6Drink ginger tea
Rebecca Lee, registered nurse and founder of the natural health resource RemediesForMe.com, recommended a homemade ginger tea.
“Ginger contains over 200 powerful substances in its oils and has been around for over 2,000 years,” Lee told HelloGiggles. “Among many uses, ginger calms muscle contractions and inflammation, which is great for combating migraine pains.”
Here’s Lee’s preferred recipe for ginger tea:
- Wash and peel off the brown skin and boil the sliced up root with some lemon and lemon rind.
- Lightly sweeten with honey, or add sliced pear while making the tea, for taste.
- Boil for 30 minutes.
The next time you begin to experience a migraine, try one or all of these hacks. They may not be miracle cures, but they can certainly make the pain far more manageable.