Migraine headaches are not like regular headaches. Most of the time, regular headaches can be eased quickly and easily, and they will not interfere with your daily activities. Migraines, on the other hand, do not go away quickly or easily and can prevent you from living a normal life.
Many Americans suffer from migraines every single day. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to get migraine relief or how to prevent the headaches from occurring frequently.
Luckily, there are methods for relief and prevention. Many of the methods are inexpensive and convenient and can be done anywhere.
15 Ways to Get Migraine Relief
1. Use lavender essential oils.
Lavender essential oil has been proven to help ease the severity and length of a migraine headache. This can be done by inhaling the lavender oil for 15 to 20 minutes, either by holding the bottle under your nose or by diffusing it. Lavender oil can also be applied directly to the temples.
2. Consume ginger.
Commonly known to reduce the feeling of nausea, ginger can alleviate some of the symptoms of migraines. Aside from easing nausea, ginger also lessens the severity and length of migraines. The migraine relief provided by ginger has been compared to popular medications, and ginger has shown to be just as effective.
3. Do some stretching.
Stretching or doing yoga has positive effects on the body that reduce pain, including that caused by migraines. It also allows you to loosen up stiff muscles, which can sometimes be the cause of an episode.
4. Use peppermint essential oils.
Peppermint essential oils contain menthol, which can stop migraines from starting and can ease the symptoms of migraines that have already started. By diluting the oil with a carrier oil (something like olive oil or coconut oil), and then placing the mixture on your forehead, temples, and back of the neck, the symptoms will be lessened. This method offers relief from the pain, nausea, and light sensitivity.
5. Put on sunglasses.
The pain can be heightened when there is light, so if it isn’t an option to sit in a dark room, sunglasses may help. The darker the sunglasses, the better the light will be blocked, resulting in less pain due to light sensitivity.
6. Turn the lights off and lay down.
Many times, migraines are caused by light sensitivity, and more light can make the pain even worse. Because of this, one of the best methods of relief is to turn the lights off and lay down. This will help ease the pain and nausea, and will likely lessen the duration of symptoms.
7. Use a cold pack.
For some reason that is unknown to even scientists, cold packs have been proven to lessen the pain of migraines. By placing one on your neck, forehead, or scalp, you will be given some migraine relief. If you don’t have a cold pack, you can simply use anything from inside of your freezer, or even a washcloth that has been rinsed in cold water.
8. Take a warm bath or shower.
A warm bath or shower will ease tense muscles, which could offer relief as well. Lay back, relax, and close your eyes for the full effect.
9. Put down your electronic devices.
Bright lights can trigger migraines or make them worse if you already have one. Remember to take breaks from electronic devices often so that your eyes can rest and you can avoid the migraines. If you already have a migraine, avoid electronics altogether or it won’t go away.
10. Pinch the pad between your thumb and pointer finger.
This is also known as acupressure. By pinching this pad of skin, a pressure point related to pain relief is triggered. This method can not only make migraines shorter and less painful, but it also helps ease nausea associated with migraines.
11. Focus on deep breathing.
Deep breathing is beneficial because you can do it anywhere and at any time. It reduces stresses and eases pain caused by migraines. By practicing deep breathing regularly, you can even prevent migraines from beginning in the first place.
12. Massage your neck and temples.
Many times, migraines are caused by tension. By massaging your neck and temples, you are relieving some of that tension, which will ease the pain of a headache. It will also get your blood flowing better, which will further relieve migraines.
13. Try a hot compress.
Depending on what triggers your migraines, a hot compress may work better than a cold pack. If you weren’t given relief from a cold pack, put a heating pad around your neck or on the back of your head. This generally works for migraines caused by tension. If you don’t have a heating pad, a warm cloth should work just as well.
14. Consume a small amount of caffeine.
Caffeine can offer relief if an episode hasn’t reached its most severe stages yet. Another reason you can get relief from caffeine is that caffeine causes pain-reducers to work better. It is important to note that too much caffeine, however, can make headaches worse.
15. Take over-the-counter medication for migraines.
This may be your last resort, but if the natural methods don’t offer you any relief, over-the-counter pain medication may be necessary. Tylenol and Ibuprofen may work, or you may need something more specific to migraines. All of these can be found at local drug stores, and usually even right at the grocery store.
How to Prevent Migraine Headaches
1. Pay attention to what you are eating.
Diet can play a big part in the frequency and severity of a migraine. A couple of general tips to help prevent them are to increase the amount of magnesium in your diet and to avoid processed foods.
You should also eat your meals around the same time each day and never skip meals. There are some foods that may trigger a migraine more than others, and it is wise to avoid those foods.
You can begin to determine which foods are triggers by keeping a detailed food journal. This food journal should include what you ate, when you ate it, and how you felt after eating. When you think you have figured out a trigger, eliminate it from your diet and see if you get less frequent headaches.
There are certain foods that are more commonly known as triggers of migraines, so paying close attention to those foods may be the best place to start. Some of these foods include:
- Hot dogs
- Deli meat
- Cheese (specifically blue, feta, cheddar, parmesan, and swiss)
- Alcohol (specifically red wine)
- Foods that contain flavor enhancers or MSG
- Cold food
- Pickled food
- Sour cream and yogurt
2. Get professional massages regularly.
By having a professional massage your muscles, you will notice an improvement in the stiffness of your body. This reduces the number of migraines you will have, and also improves the quality of sleep you get each night. Since sleep and migraines are closely related, massages work in more than one way to prevent migraines.
Massages also improve your heart rate and lower your anxiety and cortisol levels. If the levels are off on any of these three issues, it could cause migraines.
3. Get enough sleep.
Migraines can be triggered by a lack of sleep, so it is important to get enough sleep each night. Unfortunately, migraines can also prevent you from falling asleep, so it could end up being a vicious cycle.
There are ways to prevent that vicious cycle from ever beginning, however. When you are struggling to get sleep, there are a couple of ways to encourage your body to shut down for the night. These ways include:
- Start a bedtime routine, and make sure you follow it every night.
- Take time to unwind
- Avoid heavy exercise, large meals, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed
- Don’t watch television before bed
- Close the door
- Don’t do work in the bedroom
- Read something
4. Avoid stressful situations.
Stress can increase both the frequency and severity of migraines. While stress cannot always be avoided, some stressful situations can and should be avoided.
Instead of constantly adding to your to-do list, find things that can be taken off of your to-do list. Your health and well-being are worth putting something off until tomorrow.
Another way to avoid stress is by breaking large projects up into smaller tasks. This way, you are accomplishing goals, but you aren’t giving yourself the overwhelming task of the overall large project at one time.
Find time to do something you love every single day. You may think that you don’t have time for that, but it is so important that you make the time. Even if you only have 15 or 20 minutes to do something, spend that time doing something that makes you happy.
The best way to avoid stressful situations is to give yourself a break. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed but your tasks aren’t complete yet. Taking a break can actually make you more productive when your break is over, so it is beneficial in more than one way.
5. Exercise regularly.
There are a couple of reasons that regular exercise can help prevent migraines. First, the chemicals released in the body during exercise ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, both of which cause migraines to be more frequent and severe.
Being overweight or obese also cause more frequent and severe migraines, so, by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight, migraines will be easier to manage.
There are many exercises that you can choose from, so you should always be able to find some form that you enjoy. Start slow and work your way into more intense exercise regimes.
6. Take prescription preventative medication.
When nothing else helps with preventing migraines, prescription migraine medication may be necessary. There are certain guidelines to determine who can receive a prescription for this type of medication. The guidelines are:
- You have at least four episodes in one month
- Migraines last more than 12 hours
- Over-the-counter pain medications do not help with relief
- You have noticed that you have regular episodes of numbness or weakness
- Your migraines often make it so you cannot perform your necessary day-to-day activities
- Your migraines affect other medical conditions
If you are a candidate, your doctor will decide how often you should take the medication. Depending on your specific situation, your doctor may instruct that you take the medication every single day or that you should only take it when you know you will be experiencing a trigger.
Final Thoughts on Migraine Relief and Prevention
Migraine headaches can be completely debilitating. Those who suffer from them may have issues working, taking care of their families, and completing other daily tasks. It can be hard to live with them, especially if you don’t know how to make it easier.
By trying the methods for migraine relief, you should be able to get back in control of your life. Preventative methods can also be taken to minimize the frequency and severity of the migraines.