Migraines can be annoying. When the pain is severe it can make you so uncomfortable that you have no choice but to take medication to make you feel better. However, taking painkillers all the time can have a serious impact on your health. According to our research, long-term use can lead to cardiovascular issues, increase your chances of a stroke or heart attack or cause kidney failure.
While use of painkillers is perfectly acceptable, you need to stick to the recommended dosage and the length of time you are taking them. You can also complement medicine use with our recommended home remedies to help ease migraine pain so you don’t have to depend on medicines solely.
Here are our tips on how you can naturally ease migraine pain at home.
- Rest in a Dark and Quiet Room
In my experience, being one step ahead of a migraine can greatly reduce its effect on me and my life. Once I start feeling the onset of a migraine, one of the first things I do is to turn off the lights and close the window and then close my eyes and rest quietly.
Many people reportedly experience light sensitivity during an episode. Studies also show that migraine sufferers also experience light sensitivity before an attack, which makes it a good indication that an episode is about to occur.
Resting in a dark and quiet room will eliminate light sensitivity and help you relax even before the onset of a migraine. I also recommend getting some sleep if you can. Not all of my migraines disappeared with sleep, but the chemicals released by your brain during sleep can help eliminate migraines.
- Use a Cold Compress
Once a migraine starts, I find that applying a cold compress on my forehead distracts me from the pain. I like the cold numbing effect it has on me and the coldness stimulates other nerve endings, making me forget about the pain.
My recommendation is to use an old fashioned ice bag. I prefer this over the gel types and cooler ice packs. The cloth feels more comfortable compared to plastic and you can re-use it indefinitely so long as it does not leak water.
I use a hand towel to wrap my ice pack for better comfort and to prevent my face from getting wet quickly. I use the pack on and off for 15-20 minutes. This is usually enough time for the pain to subside especially if I take an OTC painkiller during severe attacks.
The American Migraine Foundation reports that 1 in 3 migraine sufferers identify dehydration as the trigger for their episode. If you’re one of these people, stay hydrated to prevent migraine pain.
Dr. Roderick Spears of Brown University, chair of migraine and chief of the headache division says that aggressively hydrating before and during an onset of an attack shortens its duration.
If you don’t like sipping on plain water, we recommend adding slices of lemon, lime or a teaspoon or two of honey for some flavoring. Drink at least 6-8 250ml servings of water throughout the day to help alleviate your headache.
- Sleep Well
As I said earlier, not all of my headaches disappeared by taking a nap or by sleeping. However, I did find that some of my migraines were triggered by poor sleep. This is why I recommend sleeping well to avoid triggering migraines during the following days.
Establish a regular sleep cycle. You can do this by creating your own routine for the night. For example, after doing some chores, I do some light stretching exercises and then take a warm shower and do my skin care. After this, I turn off the lights and then settle on my bed with the reading lamp on and then spend an hour reading or scrolling on my phone. Once 10 pm strikes, I put down my phone or book and turn off the lights to sleep.
Having a night time routine helps your body prepare for sleep and sticking to a time to actually go to sleep helps me fall asleep faster and has improved the quality of my sleep. I do take naps during the day but I make sure to set a 20-minute alarm so it won’t interfere with my bedtime.
Indulging in a soothing massage will not only relax your whole body, it can also alleviate headaches and migraines. If you’re like me, one of the triggers for my migraine is stress and one of the most natural ways to beat stress is by getting a massage.
I recommend getting a scalp massager so that you can de-stress and relax at home. Sometimes referred to as a head massager, this device relaxes the tight muscles in the scalp to improve blood circulation and reduce tension headaches and migraines.
A scalp massager is a good alternative when there are no professional masseurs available.
Aromatherapy is not just a great way to relax and unwind; it can also alleviate headaches. I find that pouring in some essential oil like lavender and peppermint in a diffuser helps me relax faster before a migraine attack. I usually do this before I turn off the lights and sit or lie quietly on my bed or office chair.
If you don’t have a diffuser, a scented candle works just as fine. 15 minutes of quiet time and aromatherapy can do wonders for your headache and mood.
- Exercise Regularly
We have said time and time again that exercise has many health benefits including migraine relief. Exercise is a great way to release tension and stress from the body. Working out also increases endorphins levels in the body so that you get natural pain relief.
You don’t need to enroll at a gym immediately. You can start by walking 15 to 20 minutes daily. Walking is free, easy and very practical. Regularly walking can do wonders to your health and keep headaches at bay.
Based on my experience, living with migraines can be overwhelming but it is manageable. Identifying triggers and creating a healthy and calming environment can have a big impact on migraine attack duration and frequency.
Keep in mind that not all people are the same and the tips that work for me, might not work for you. It is important to experiment with different kinds of home remedies to find something that works for you. Try keeping a migraine diary to help identify triggers and remedies that work so that you can identify patterns and manage pain better.
If symptoms persist despite taking medication and following my tips, seek the advice of a healthcare professional to better address your concerns.