How to Get Rid of a Migraine without Medication
It’s nearly impossible to browse the Internet or read through a newspaper today and not see something about the dangers and side effects of medication. If you suffer from migraines, however, medication may be the only remedy that seems to offer any relief. As today’s consumer is becoming more and more health conscious about the consumption of medications, migraine sufferers are looking for natural ways to get rid of a migraine.
Unfortunately, getting rid of a migraine with a natural treatment is difficult once a migraine attack has started and is in full force. However, there are many things that can be done to reduce the chance of a migraine attack from happening in the first place.
What do most of us do when we feel a headache coming on? We reach for the ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or some combination of over-the-counter medication. If our headache is accompanied by the typical migraine symptoms, we may seek out a stronger migraine medication remedy that only our doctor can prescribe. The next section discusses these prescription migraine medications.
Common Migraine Prescription Medications
Some of the most common prescription medications include the following:
- Triptans (Axert and Imitrex)
- Ergotamines (Cafergot, Migranal nasal spray)
- Antihistamines (Benadryl and Periactin)
- Narcotics (OxyContin and Vicodin)
- Antidepressants (Elavil and Deptran)
- Anticonvulsants (Topamax and Depakote)
- Sedatives (Fioricet and Fiorinal)
Although effective, prescription migraine drugs have potential side effects such as drowsiness, constipation, confusion, weight changes, restlessness, depression, and suicidal ideas. Some medications used for migraine treatment can be addictive, and instead of providing relief, overuse of medications can make symptoms worse and sometimes lead to Rebound Migraines. Fortunately, medication is just one tool that can be used to get rid of a migraine. Before exploring other tools, we first need to understand our migraine symptoms.
Common Migraine Symptoms
While a headache is usually (but not always) going to be one of the first indicators of the onset of a migraine, the pain is more specific than just a typical headache. Common migraine symptoms include nausea and vomiting, photophobia (intolerance to light), auras, sensitivity to sound, lightheadedness, and so on.
Headache symptoms of a migraine will be more severe than a typical headache, so severe, in fact, that it’s not uncommon for some migraine sufferers to seek treatment through an ER or urgent-care clinic in an attempt to get relief. The intense headache will be a throbbing, pulsing pain and will occur on one or both sides of the head. If the pain is associated with another migraine symptom, it’s probably a migraine.
While nausea accompanied by a headache doesn’t always mean a migraine, migraines are the most common headache associated with nausea. So it’s important to consider it. Migraine nausea can also present with vomiting or an upset stomach.
Photophobia is a sensitivity to light. Lights suddenly seem glaringly bright, not unlike an oncoming car flashing its bright lights at you in the middle of the night. Wavelengths, or colors, of light can also have an impact on photophobia; blue lights, common in electronics, can be especially irritating. Light effects can cause intense eye pain, and photophobia can be severe, with a simple flash of light instigating a migraine. Wearing migraine glasses from Axon Optics is a natural way to block these lights and stop a migraine without medication.
An aura occurs as one of the prodromes, or early symptoms, of a migraine that typically present up to 30 minutes prior to the onset of the headache. Auras are visual disturbances including seeing things such as blind spots or zigzag patterns, having hallucinations, or experiencing blindness. In extreme cases, they can be associated with seizures.
Sensitivity to Sound and Smell
In addition to photophobia, migraine symptoms can include sensitivity to sound and smell. It works in much the same way as the sensitivity to light in that sounds are suddenly amplified or smells intensified.
Lightheadedness is clear to spot. When you try to stand, you’ll feel dizzy or feel like you might faint. The room may seem to spin, and most likely you’ll need to sit back down.
Migraines are best controlled when you understand these warning signs and when they begin to appear for you.
How to Prevent a Migraine
With these symptoms or warning signs in mind, are there natural remedies or ways to get stop a migraine without medication? While everyone is different, there are many things that can be done to stop your migraine or reduce the chance of a migraine attack before it starts!
Find your triggers. Ask who, what, when, where, and how questions? Keep a migraine journal to find patterns in the onset of symptoms. Multiple migraine diary apps or websites exist to help you journal your migraine. Record the following:
- Who was I with (add specifics—was it a coworker who tends to wear a lot of perfume–possible smell trigger)?
- What was I doing, and what symptom presented itself?
- When did the symptom start (time of day, time of month)?
- Where did the symptom happen?
- How did the symptom happen (what were the circumstances surrounding )?
Eliminate your trigger. Once you have a few entries in your journal, see if you can find a pattern, and if you find one, seek to eliminate the trigger. For example, perhaps you discover that every time you clean the bathroom, you get a migraine. While, unfortunately, this might not be a sign you should stop cleaning the bathroom, it may be a sign the smell of your cleaning solution is a trigger.
Try to understand what is causing and intensifying your migraine headaches. Migraines occur when blood vessels dilate and constrict, but this isn’t the source. The key to preventing your migraines is to find the triggers. Every time it rains, you can put a bucket under a leaky roof to catch the water, but until you actually fix the leaky roof, it’s going to keep leaking.
Maybe eliminating your trigger isn’t as easy as changing a chemical in your cleaning supplies. Perhaps it’s the blue lights on your work computer that trigger a migraine near the end of each work week. Once you find your trigger, you can use the following tools to provide natural migraine prevention or relief without medication:
- Migraine glasses — Axon Optics offers tinted migraine glasses that block offending lights that trigger photophobia and have been shown to reduce the number of migraines.
- Supplements — Supplements, such as riboflavin or fish oil, used regularly can decrease the number of migraines.
- Herbs and essential oils — Herbs that have been shown to provide headache and migraine relief include the following: feverfew and ginger root. Essential oils that may be helpful include eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosewood.
- Ice packs — Yes, the tried and true ice pack is a natural anti-inflammatory, and a fantastic migraine remedy.
- Relaxation — When you feel a migraine coming on, do some deep breathing, yoga, stretching exercises, or meditation; get a massage; or sit outside and inhale some fresh air, whatever typically relaxes you. While these things alone may not stave off a headache or migraine, it may lessen its effects.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for migraines and the cause of migraines remains unknown. There are many researchers who are dedicated to finding cures for migraines, but a complete cure remains elusive. Understanding your triggers, eliminating your triggers, and using the tools to help with these two steps will go a long ways in helping you manage your migraine frequency and intensity.
While traditional physicians might disagree, it is worth noting that migraine sufferers are finding proactive solutions in alternative-health and functional-medicine fields. Look for the following doctors and practitioners in your area to seek alternative healing solutions:
- Functional-medicine doctors
- Physical therapists
- Massage therapists
While the traditional path to treating migraines primarily focuses on medication for relief and no true long-lasting remedy, there are natural ways to treat and avoid your migraine. To eliminate the effects of medication, seek out a natural remedy and take a proactive approach to your migraine management.