How to Get Rid of a Migraine

Migraines are the absolute worst, trust me, I know.

Have you ever had one? If so, you’re going to want to know how to get rid of a migraine headache.

How to Get Rid of a Migraine?

My strategies for getting rid of a migraine range from natural to conventional and everything in between. Read on to learn more!

Migraine Definition

A migraine is not just any old headache.

According to my friend and colleague, Dr. Robert Rountree, a migraine is typically caused by disturbances to the blood vessels in the head.

What is a Migraine Headache?

Migraine headaches are known to recur periodically and are characterized by severe pain, often concentrated on one side of the head.

Although they are known to be aggravated by light, I’ve experienced migraines that were triggered by a chemical smell or fragrance.

Migraine or Headache

Difference Between Migraine and Headache?

If you’re wondering what is the difference between a migraine and headache it’s pretty simple.

Headaches are caused by muscle tension in the head, while migraines are related to vasoconstriction or lack thereof which can produce a swelling of the blood vessels in the head.

Migraine Piercing

When I’ve had migraines in the past it felt like my brain could not fit inside my skull, the pain was incredibly intense and piercing.

Part of this collection of migraine symptoms was that it felt like I had a nail in my head, or a headache in my eye, or a severe headache on my forehead.

I’ve suffered headaches so intense that sometime I was unable to sleep.

Migraine and Nausea

When migraines are super intense the pain can be nauseating.

Piercing headache eye pain is enough to not just make you nauseated, but to throw up. Trust me, it used to get this bad.

Migraine Headache Symptoms

The symptoms of migraine headaches include but are not limited to:

  • Severe Pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Vision Disturbances
  • Aura
  • Piercing Sensation in Head

Dark Chocolate for Keto Diet

Dietary Migraine Causes

There are a number of things that can cause migraines including dietary items like MSG, chocolate, cheese, and more.

I did not find that eliminating chocolate and cheese prevented migraines, but avoiding MSG has been helpful.

Here are some other items thought to cause intensely painful headaches:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Food Allergies
  • Nutritional Deficiencies

Stress and Migraines

Migraine Triggers

In addition to the above dietary causes, some additional headache and migraine triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal Shifts
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Chemical Allergies
  • Weather Changes
  • Dehydration / Over-Hydration
  • Constipation
  • Keto Flu

Migraines with Aura?

If you’re wondering what is a migraine aura I’m here to help.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, some people experience an aura prior to a migraine. An aura essentially consists of transient sensory changes that take place right before the pain starts.

Most frequently this consists of obstructive visual changes that last up to one hour.

The American Migraine Foundation also states that around 75% of migraine patients do not experience auras.1

Headache on Back of Head

Typically a headache that is on the back of the head is a tension headache, not a migraine.

Tension headaches consist of dull pain, tightness, or pressure around the forehead as well as tension around the occipital ridge, or back of the head.

Elana Amsterdam with her Boys Migraine

Headache Kids

I started getting migraines when I was a child and my parents gave me baby aspirin quite often back then.

Later, in my teen years, I graduated to frequent handfuls of aspirin which may have lead to the deterioration of my gut lining and the eventual onset of Celiac Disease.

Don’t make this mistake. You can get to the root cause of recurrent headaches by seeing a conventional physician or Functional Medicine Doctor.

Headache Vitamin D Deficiency

A great example of getting to the root cause of migraines occurred with one of the boys’ friends back in grade school.

Finn suffered severe life-altering headaches at age ten.

His mother took him to his pediatrician who found that his vitamin D levels had bottomed out. He was suffering from a severe vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D Low Symptoms

While the optimal range for vitamin D is 30-100ng/mL, his level was 13.

Finn was put on a weekly high dose of vitamin D by his physician and his migraines stopped occurring altogether.

Migraine Cure

Curing an intense headache in process is not easy. I know this from experience. Here are a few things that may work if you’re in the middle of an episode.

  • Foam Roller -roll out neck muscles to relieve pressure in the head
  • Cold Packs -to place on your neck and head
  • Hydration -drink water, but hydrate properly
  • Avoid Hyponatremia -water without electrolytes may worsen symptoms
  • Electrolytes -to alleviate symptoms of migraine including pain
  • Aspercreme -topical drug offering pain relief; bypassing gut, spares gut lining
  • Cannabis -a potential solution for severe headaches
  • Tylenol -is a good option if nausea is not present
  • Imitrex -prescription nasal spray to nip episodes in the bud

Imitrex for Migraines

Drug for Migraines

There are a number of standard options for drug treatment of severe headaches.

First, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be a good option. This includes Tylenol, Advil, Alleve, and the like.

Prescription Medication for Migraines

If you are too nauseous to keep down a pill (this has happened to me) you may need a prescription for Imitrex, a nasal spray that treats this condition.

I have not tried it so not sure how effective it is, but I’ve heard fantastic things about it from friends.

dandelion root coffee

Migraine Prevention

So, it may seem backward to start with migraine cures, and then move on to prevention, but if you’ve ever had a really bad headache you know the priorities and what order they come in.

The solutions for migraine prevention range from dietary changes to lifestyle adjustments as well as strategies to reduce toxic body burden:

I have seen a massive reduction in migraines since I began using LMNT electrolytes.

I was suffering from intense headaches often and part of the reason was that I was drinking too much water thereby diluting the electrolyte balance our bodies require to properly function.

By the way, there is a word for over-hydrating and it is hyponatremia.

Drinking electrolytes with your water is great because it will both prevent and relieve migraines.

Meaning of Hydration

According to Tyler Cartwright, “hydration is understood to be a balance between fluid volume and the amount of electrolytes that exist in that fluid volume.”

It’s not just water but what comes with it!

He goes on to state that one of the biggest struggles we have now with our overall health, not just headaches, is not learning but unlearning.

That’s because we need to understand that electrolytes like salt, magnesium, and potassium are absolutely critical to function properly.

Gatorade MigraineSugar and Headaches

At the same time, we must hydrate properly and avoid swimming in the sea of sugar we are offered as a fake fix.

I also found that I do not get as many headaches when I follow a Low-Carb Diet.

Electrolytes Imbalance Symptoms

One of the main issues with an electrolyte imbalance is migraine headaches. As an aside, constipation is another issue with this.

Headache Dehydration

Electrolytes keep me properly hydrated and also prevent the water I drink from passing right through me.

I’ve stopped running to the bathroom all the time to urinate and my cells are actually absorbing the liquid I consume!

LMNT Elemental Labs Variety Pack Migraine Prevention

Keto Flu

For those on a Keto Diet, you may have heard about or have experienced the dreaded Keto Flu which often includes severe headaches. LMNT Electrolytes were a crucial component for me in reducing Keto Flu symptoms.

To learn more see How to Kick the Keto Flu.

Why Does My Head Hurt Everyday

Finally, have you ever gone through a funk where your head hurt every day? Or maybe you thought, “why does my head hurt when I wake up?

I’ve gone through periods where this happened to me and it was awful.

There were two things that helped.

The first? Electrolytes! What a difference.

The second, it’s gonna sound strange but, it’s true, DNRS. If you can’t get rid of chronic headaches, check out the book, Wired for Healing.

Elana Migraine Cures

Elana’s Migraine Cures

Will these tips cure every single intense headache? Of course not, I wish life were only that simple!

But, with these strategies ranging from natural (hydration and foam rollers) to medication, you’ll have many tools in your migraine-preventing toolbox.

You’ll also have strategies for getting yourself out of misery if you’re in the middle of a migraine attack.

Your Migraine Cures

What are your go-to tips for preventing and curing a migraine? Let’s stop the headaches and spread the love!

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48 responses to “How to Get Rid of a Migraine”

  1. Could you explain how you use the foam roller on your neck muscles? I am familiar with what a foam roller is but not how to use it.

    Also, I must drink electrolyte drinks and clear water daily per my doctor for my health issues. I can’t handle the taste of LMNT but do well with Nuun which helps me avoid the sugar in most electrolyte drinks. You mentioned the constant bathroom trips. I have to go constantly, so I feel like the electrolytes are not helping me as much as they need to. Any tips for retaining fluids better?

    Thank you for this post!

    • Amy, thanks for your comment. We’ve uploaded a video of me using the foam roller to help with this :-)

  2. Yes! Electrolytes also really help me. It took me a long time to realize I was drinking too much water — I need to hydrate more than most people, but I also need to supplement with electrolytes. I’m loving the LMNT, so thanks for that tip.

  3. Elana
    I was just saying to myself. I need to figure out why I keep getting migraines. I use to get one that lasted three days then go away. Now I seem to get them and they do not go away, just get dull but ever present. I was just saying to myself. I need to figure this out because it’s scaring me a bit. And then I see you’re Email about migraines. It makes sense and I’m going to take your advice. Thank you for thinking of me and popping up right when I needed some advice.
    Your a blessing.
    Many thanks

  4. Kitty, that is AMAZING! Thanks for the reminder. I’ve updated the post to reflect this in the Migraine Prevention section :-)

  5. I have heard that magnesium supplementation helps. There is a supplement called NeuroMag by Life Extension that is supposed to be very helpful for migraines. I have been told this by someone who has worked in the health and wellness area. Since I don’t get migraine headaches this is only a suggestion.

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