Avoiding triggers and stress is sometimes not enough to prevent the onset of a migraine. Finding immediate relief is often a priority for those prone to migraine attacks.
You might take over-the-counter medicine or have a prescription for migraine relief from a doctor.
Still, there are other things you can do to alleviate some of the severity and duration of a migraine attack.
Here are seven smart interventions for easing migraine symptoms as the medication kicks in.
1. Close Your Eyes in a Dark, Quiet Room
One of the best ways to relieve migraine is to rest in a dark, quiet room.
According to research, about 80% to 90% of migraine sufferers experience photophobia—a sensitivity to light and sound.
All mammals have light-sensing cells in their retina called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), responsible for circadian rhythms and pupil reactions to light.
It can also provoke pain transmitters after light exposure. Many medical experts believe the ipRGCs is why headaches worsen in light and improve after about 20 to 30 minutes in a dark area.
If you’re experiencing a migraine attack, you might want to lay down in a dim room and try to fall asleep.
Even though not all headaches subside when you’re sleeping, you may be able to find some pain relief.
2. Apply a Compress
Some patients may consider placing a cold compress on their neck or forehead during a migraine, like a wet washcloth.
When something cold hits your skin, you may experience a numbing sensation that diverts the brain’s attention away from the migraine headache and stimulates the nerves where the compress is resting.
If you opt for an ice pack, make sure you have a cloth in between to protect your skin. Also, check for leaks in a commercial ice pack as the chemicals could damage your eyes.
Other people may prefer to apply heat instead. Heat has a way of relaxing muscles and tension in the body.
A warm bath or shower could improve migraine symptoms.
3. Massage Your Temples
Applying gentle pressure to your temples could help lessen migraine discomfort.
Studies have suggested that a massage is an effective tool for pain management, offering relief for lower back, shoulder and neck pain, arthritis and soreness in cancer patients.
Ultimately, whether temple massage works depends on the person.
For example, you might be incredibly tender during a migraine, making your symptoms feel worse.
Migraine sufferers with allodynia are very sensitive to physical stimuli, finding touch difficult to withstand.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, patients with allodynia may even struggle to brush their hair or be exposed to cold temperatures.
4. Use Lavender Essential Oils
Chronic stress can induce and exacerbate migraine headaches, making stress relief strategies necessary for migraine management.
Research has provided evidence of lavender essential oil’s efficacy in treating anxiety and delivering a soothing effect on individuals.
Other studies have indicated lavender’s use in helping to treat chronic pain, such as migraines. One study, in particular, analyzed migraine pain in 47 patients who inhaled lavender essential oils for 15 minutes. Patients reported a significant decrease in pain symptoms.
You might use lavender oil by holding an essential oil bottle up to your nose, utilizing a diffuser or steeping lavender buds in hot water.
5. Stay Hydrated
According to clinical trials, 70% of migraine sufferers experience nausea and vomiting during a migraine attack.
Generally, dehydration has also been known to trigger headaches and related symptoms like fatigue and dizziness.
If you feel a migraine coming on, make sure to drink plenty of water to shorten the duration of the attack.
Preventing nausea and vomiting symptoms of dehydration can also help you take medicine sooner.
Frequent vomiting may lead to longer wait times before you can keep migraine medications down.
Feel free to infuse your water with lemon, lime, cucumber or mint leaves to make it palatable. If your water has flavor, you might be more inclined to drink more.
6. Create a Mindfulness Practice
Meditation is another excellent stress reducer that could benefit migraine patients.
Research has shown that people who build a mindfulness practice may see improved quality of life, self-awareness and depression within 36 weeks.
Because stress plays a significant role in migraine attacks, meditation could relieve or even prevent migraine severity.
Practice breathing exercises to focus your attention on the rise and fall of your chest and belly.
While it’s natural to continue feeling certain emotions or having rapid thoughts, you can easily center yourself.
7. Aerobic Exercise for Prevention
Contrary to belief, physical activity can help prevent migraine attacks and does not often trigger an attack.
In fact, a recent study found that two-thirds of migraine sufferers do not get enough exercise.
Although you’ll risk worsening your migraine symptoms if you try exercising during an attack, aerobic exercise in-between can reduce the number of migraine days in a month and potentially decrease pain intensity and duration.
Start with regular walking to begin an exercise routine.
Walking can improve inflammation and cardiovascular health. It’s also an excellent way to enhance sleep quality and reduce stress levels.
Lifestyle changes and these at-home migraine-fighting techniques work well alongside medication.
While they may not relieve your migraine pain entirely, you might consider them excellent coping strategies that you can integrate into your self-care plan.