How to Get Rid of a Migraine Fast

30 million people suffer from migraines. The majority of migraine sufferers are women. Understanding migraines is key to finding a solution to get rid of a migraine fast.

What is a migraine?

When blood vessels enlarge, nerve fibers coil around them and cause a release of chemicals.  This results in a migraine. A migraine is a type of headache that consists of an intense throbbing or sharp pulsing on one side of your head. There are two types of migraines: migraines with auras and migraines without auras. Migraines without auras can cause nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sounds.  Migraines with auras occur in 1 out of 5 people suffering from migraines. An aura is a sensory warning. It is the feeling or series of sensations that come 10 to 30 minutes before the onset of a migraine. Symptoms of auras include seeing zigzag lines, flashing lights or blind spots and feeling numbness or tingling in the face or hands. Aura migraines can also abruptly alter your sense of smell, taste and touch, and they can cause you to feel mentally fuzzy. Nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sounds can also accompany migraines with auras.

Is it a migraine or a bad headache?

There are a few symptoms to look for when trying to decipher if you are having a migraine or a bad tension headache. Tension headaches do not have nausea as a symptom, and they are usually concentrated in the back of the head, the eyebrows, or the whole head. Sensitivity to light or sound is a symptom. One of the biggest differences between a migraine and a tension headache is the life span. A tension headache can last from a few minutes up to a few hours. This very short-lived compared to a migraine that can have a lifespan from a few hours to a few days. Tension headaches are infrequent. Migraines tend to be very episodic.

Doctors use the “5,4,3,2,1″ criteria to diagnose migraines without aura.

5 or more attacks

4 hours to 3 days in duration

At least 2 of unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate to severe pain that intensifies when conducting physical activities.

At least 1 additional symptom such as vomiting, nausea and sensitivity to light or sound.

If you are regularly experiencing migraine symptoms and signs, you should keep a record of your attacks and how you treat them.

The Four Stages of a Migraine

Migraines first occur in a person during their childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. Here are four stages of a migraine: prodrome, aura, headaches (attack) and postdrome. The stages vary by people. You may not experience all four stages.

Prodrome

A day or two before a migraine, you might experience a few subtle changes that hint to an oncoming migraine. These changes include constipation, food cravings, hyperactivity, irritability, neck stiffness, and uncontrollable yawning.

Aura

As stated earlier, an aura usually occurs before a migraine. However, they can occur during a migraine as well. Aura symptoms are caused by the sympathetic nervous system. Once a symptom starts, it can last for 20 to 60 minutes. Some more examples of aura symptoms include vision loss, and speech and language problem.

Attack (Headache)

A migraine can last from four to 72 hours. However, the frequency of a migraine attack varies from person to person.  You can have a migraine several times a month or less. Besides nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity, you can also experience blurred vision and become lightheaded. This can lead to fainting.

Postdrome

The last stage occurs after the migraine attack.  You may feel drained and washed out. Some people feel a little euphoric, but that might be just relief from the throbbing pain.

When should you go see a doctor?

Take your log of your migraines to your yearly check up to discuss the headaches. Before you go to the doctor, write down your key personal information such as major stress in your life. Also, make a list of all the medication you are taking. Include any vitamins or supplements you are taking along with the dosage taken. You should write down questions to ask your doctor. Some basic questions are the following:

What is likely triggering my migraine headache?

Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?

What is the best course of action?

What changes to my lifestyle or diet do you suggest I make?

What kind of tests do I need?

You should also ask your primary doctor to recommend a neurologist. The test that are performed are an EEG, CT, MRI and spinal tap.  These test check for

Bleeding within the skull

Blood clot within the membrane that covers the brain

Stroke

Dilated blood vessel in the brain

Too much or too little cerebrospinal fluid

Inflammation of the membranes of the brain or spinal cord

Nasal sinus blockage

Postictal headache (after stroke or seizure)

Tumors

You should see your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if you have any of these symptoms and signs.

An abrupt, sever headache that resembles a thunderclap.

A headache with fever, mental confusion seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness, trouble speaking, or stiffness in the neck.

Headache after a head injury

A chronic headache (headache for more than 15 days) that worsens by coughing, straining, exertion or sudden movement.

New headache pain if you are older than 50.

What causes migraines?

Usually the key to curing a problem is discovery the cause of it. Unfortunately, the world of migraines still has many unanswered questions. One of them includes what causes migraines. There is no definite answer, but there are a few hypotheses.  Some scientists say that genetic and environmental factors play a role in having migraines.

Migraines may be caused by a shift in the interaction between the brainstem and the trigeminal nerve or an imbalance in brain chemicals. The latter is the most popular theory. When a migraine occurs, the serotonin levels in the body decreases. Serotonin regulates pain in your nervous system.  When the level of serotonin drops, the blood vessels thickens.

Triggers

It is hard to decipher what triggers a migraine. However, research has supported a few theories for triggers. They are the following:

Allergies and allergic reaction

Smoking first and second hand.

Skipping meals

Stress

Alcohol

Hormonal changes in women. This can include menstruation fluctuations, birth control pills and the onset of menopause. This trigger might explain why women get migraines more than men.

How to Treat a Migraine? 

Now that we have a little background information on migraines, it is time to treat them. There is no cure for migraines, but migraines can be managed. There are several home remedies and drug treatments people use for migraines. It is debatable which ones are best. It varies from person to person.

There are two types of traditional medication for migraines: pain-relieving medication and preventive medication. Pain-relieving medication is an acute abortive treatment that is taken during an attack to stop the symptoms.  Aspirin and pain relievers such as Tylenol and Aleve can relieve mild migraines.  Drug marketed specifically for migraines such as Excedrin Migraine can relieve moderate migraines, but they are not effective for sever migraines. Regular use of these medicines may cause ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and a headache from over medication.

There are a few prescription drugs for migraines. Triptan is a presciption drug that constricts the blood vessels and block pain pathways in the brain. It is effective, but it has side effects that include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and muscle weakness. It is not for stroke or heart attack victims.

Preventative medication is daily medicine used to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Some of preventative medicines are beta blockers, antidepressants, anti seizure drugs and botox.

Beta blockers used for high blood pressure may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. After a few weeks of usage, you will see a reduction in migraine symptoms.

Antidepressants reduce the frequency of migraines by stabilizing the level of serotonin in the body.

Anti seizure drugs is good at reducing migraines but cannot be taken in large doses.

Botox is great for chronic migraines.

Before you resort to medication, there are a few home remedies and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the frequency and severity of a migraine. Here is a nine step guide to getting rid of a migraine fast.

1. Keep a migraine headache journal.

2. Apply a cold compress.

Place it directly on the area of pain. This method offers quick relief and sometimes can get rid of the migraine completely.

3. Have a little caffeine.

Caffeine can trigger a migraine, but it can also treat one. Caffeine enhances the effects of a pain relieve by 40% by helping your body absorb the drug more quickly.

4. Relaxation Techniques.

Allow your body to rest and practice techniques such as mediation and breathing exercises.

5. Rest in a quiet dark room.

As mentioned earlier, some people feel a tendency to lie down in a dark room .this can work. Avoid bright lights and sounds that make your migraine worse and get some sleep.

6. Avoid triggers

Use your journal to figure out your triggers and avoid them.

7. Watch your dietary habits

Do not skip meals. Your body will not function properly

8. Sleep patterns

Too much sleep and the lack of sleep can cause a migraine. Set a specific time to go to bed and a time to wake up.

9. Avoid Stress

Stress can trigger migraines. Reduce the amount of stress you have from your job and your home life. Regular exercise is a great way to get rid of stress, and it creates overall better health.

Someone alternative medicine treatments include acupuncture, massage therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. There is evidence that all of these  techniques can reduce the occurrence of migraines.

How to Get Rid of a Migraine at Home

To know how to get rid of a migraine at home, one must be well acquainted with the condition they are trying to control, know what triggers it, and know what to do about it. Migraines are a neurological configuration that presents itself in the form of a severe and persistent headache with accompanying symptoms of nausea and vomiting or sensitivity to light. It is normally accompanied by throbbing on one side of the head. Migraines are unique in that they preceded by warning signs such as flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the arms and legs. It can last for hours or even days.

 

In order for one to know how to get rid of a migraine at home, it is necessary to know what triggers it. Some migraines are triggered by bright light and loud noise. Once you know that this is a trigger for you, and then one can ensure the lights are dimmed out in the evenings, giving your home a feeling of warmth and serenity and calming your mind. If it is during the day, it would be advisable that your home window curtains are drawn closed and keep it as dark as possible.  If the cause of migraines is noise related, then one can ensure that there are low noise levels in the house. This can be particularly challenging if one has small children in the house and in that case, maybe they can be in their own secluded room.  Another challenging aspect of noise is if you are in a noisy neighborhood, it can make it very uncomfortable.  This is why if you suffer from migraines on a regular basis, it is important to consider the location of their homes before renting or buying.

 

Some migraines are triggered by certain odors or perfumes.  So how to get rid of a migraine at home in your own environment is just to identify which odors or perfume triggers them and just ensure that you don’t have these products in your house. If you get a migraine because of odors or perfumes, the first thing is to move to an area with flowing fresh air to neutralize the effects.

 

Allergies also cause migraines. So to effectively get rid of a migraine at home you need to stay away from the food that you are allergic to. Either you can go for allergies test at a local hospital or clinic or you can try removing one food product that you suspect you are allergic to until you narrow down to what really causes allergic reactions in you. For example, you could stop dairy products for a month, and then stop wheat products then that way you know the products that trigger allergic reactions resulting in migraines and avoid them. Some particular ingredients to be aware of that trigger migraines is tyramin, monosodium glutamate and nitrates so when shopping for food look for those ingredients’ and avoid the product. Some fruits and snacks also cause migraines like bananas, avocados, chocolates, nuts, onions, and citrus fruits. That is why it is important to try each product one at a time to find out the personal triggers and avoid them.

Sometimes migraines are caused by change of sleep patterns or inadequate sleep. To get rid of migraines at home that are caused by sleep deprivation you need to get enough rest time in a cool and quiet atmosphere.

 

Smoking and alcohol are also triggers and the only way to avoid getting a migraine from these triggers is to change your lifestyle so that you don’t smoke or indulge in alcohol.  You can also ask people that you live with not to smoke in or around the house that way you will be in control of these triggers.

 

Skipping meals also do trigger migraines.  One should ensure they eat small meals throughout the day preferably every three hours.  If you just want to rest in, then it is advisable that you keep starchy snacks that you can nibble on around the house.  It is also good to avoid processed and sugary snacks.  So if you get a hunger triggered migraine then the only way to get rid of it at home is to eat some food.

 

Physical and emotional stresses do cause migraines. Physical stress could be caused by exhaustion and the home remedy is to take adequate rest, you can ask someone to give you a massage for relaxation. Emotional stress is a bit difficult to deal with but one can go for counseling or do something that they love to and that averts the stressful thoughts, one can share what they are going through.  Taking vitamin tablets help better your moods and therefore can control stress triggered migraines.

 

You need to drink plenty of water for re-hydration to avert headaches as well as taking caffeine to restrict blood vessels and lessen pain is a perfect way to get rid of a migraine at home; as long as caffeine isn’t a trigger for you.

 

There are some traditional and unproven methods on how to get rid of a migraine at home like tying a headband.  Some people say it works for them and it would be good to give it a try.

 

Menstrual changes in women also trigger migraines and this can be dealt with by taking magnesium supplements. Other supplements like fish oil are said to work wonders. Others suggest rubbing peppermint oil on the temples of your head. Ginger capsules can help with nausea, which sometimes accompanies migraines.

There are many home therapies and even over the counter medication that you can keep at home, herbal nutritional supplements that can be taken regularly.  However, it is important for one to keep a headache monitor diary so that you can effectively find what triggers the headache, what works for you, and what doesn’t.