I've suffered with migraines for most of my life. And it's only after years of shoving down ibuprofen and whatever else I could find in the cupboard that I started to seek out alternative options. Here is a short list of things I have found helpful. Not just for getting rid of pain but also to feel better and less nauseous.
1. Cold packs:
For some reason, I'd always been told to use heat to feel better. Heated neck wraps, hot water bottles, warm baths. Looking back, this makes no sense. Whilst it can be comforting it most certainly doesn't help. Someone since pointed out to me that where there's pain, there's inflammation. It therefore isn't logical to be heating up what's already agitated! Using an ice-pack across the forehead (or wherever the pain is located most) is really helpful. If nothing else, I've found that it makes it easier to actually look around and see properly if you're prone to getting migraines that really hurt your eyes. Everyone is different so you might not get instant results, however, it should it at least help you feel a little more relaxed.
I was never really sure if this was an old wive's tale. A myth that didn't really have a genuine affect. However, I have since found using peppermint to be soothing to migraines. Drinking peppermint tea can be good. (Drinking hot drinks can sometimes make me feel worse, so judge it on a case by case basis - but it can help reduce effects too.)
Additionally, peppermint oil can be used on the skin and on your pillow to make sleeping easier and release tension. In the same way, some people find Vapour Rub or similar products helpful too - the menthol providing improvements by rubbing it into the temples on onto the soles of your feet (put socks on after!)
3. Other natural plants...
Such as Lavender and Chamomile can also help, and are particularly used to induce calm and help sleep.
4. Reducing body temperature:
This links back to my first point. As well as specifically using cold packs, anything that can cool you down should help. A cool bath, as well as eating foods that are cooling. If you feel up to it. Especially ones that keep your fluids up, such as cucumber. This can also be put into water, it's refreshing and good for you! Not so much a tip, but just nice & healthy!
5. Common sense changes, things you can try:
Inevitably, shutting the curtains and laying down in a dark room is going to help you feel better quicker. Don't put pressure on your self to keep up with day-to-day demands when you're not ready.
That being said, there's a lot of things we can adapt to help make ourselves feel better. As with most migraines, I haven't yet figured out anything that stops the fragile a.f. groggy-hangover type feeling you get afterwards, but there are some things I know I should be doing but often have to remind myself! These are:
- Switch screens off. Sometimes it's not enough to have your phone on the lowest brightness and deal with it. Turn off your devices. Bright light wont help! This can be tricky with work. But it's important to remember migraines are an actual illness and not just the same as a bit of a headache.
- Avoid bright light / sunlight. Wear sunglasses and sit in the shade when possible. Pay attention to the lighting in your home, have dim and unoffensive lighting where possible. Try to avoid florescent lights!
- Limit time with headphones in (a personal one for me perhaps!) I've discovered that even with a careful attention to volume levels, the more I use headphones to listen to audio the greater the chances of getting a migraine! So I try to balance this out where possible.
- Avoid spicy or hot food.
- Migraines can be cumulative. Meaning that if you have a day or a few days doing something you know will increase the likelihood of getting a migraine (go to a concert, watch a loud movie, sit in the sun, have a couple of drinks - whatever your triggers are), factor this in and try and balance out what you're doing in the following days. For instance, if you've had a couple of beers in the sun on one day, the following couple of days try to stay out of the sun or make sure you listen to music at a safe or lower volume.
I realise that I've focused on a lot of 'cooling down' stuff. I'd be interested to know if anyone has any wildly different experiences and advice for dealing with migraines. This is just a few things I have found useful, and by no means exhaustive. I end up using a conjunction of these tips - and usually all of them - throughout a migraine, but everyone is different so cherry pick the ones that work for you. If there's anything I've learnt living with migraines, it's too always be open to new ways of healing and pain relief.