Migraine symptoms and tips

Migraines — even thinking about them may wipe you out. The pounding headache, the nausea, the light sensitivity. A migraine may last hours or even days.1 These strong headaches can manifest in a number of ways. The first step in understanding your pounding, unrelenting headache is knowing which kind of migraine you have.

Get to know the 10 common types of migraines

It may be hard to believe that number. But yes, there are ten. In fact, there are even more subtypes of migraines that are named based on unique symptoms. Many types of migraines are also known by several different names. Headaches sure can be complicated.

Let’s start with the two main categories of migraines: with and without aura. Aura is a term that describes a sensory change that happens before a migraine, like with your hearing, vision or speech.2, 3, 4

How to help prevent migraines

Migraine treatment is all about stopping symptoms and preventing future migraines. There may be triggers that set off your attacks. Things like food (red wine, aged cheese, cured meats), bright lights and strong smells. Be aware of when your migraines happen to see if there may be a trigger — and then try to avoid it. Keeping a journal might help you see a pattern.

It’s important to understand what type of migraine you may have, so be specific in telling your doctor about your migraine symptoms. He or she may recommend a home remedy, medicine, or both.5, 6

According to official sources, there are two types of migraine medicines

  • Pain-relieving medicines: Over-the-counter or prescription medicines that are taken during a migraine to stop symptoms.5
  • Preventive medicines: Taken regularly (often daily) to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.5

Home remedies for migraines

Here are some of our favorites from Mayo Clinic:

  • Grab a cup of coffee: Caffeine may give you mild relief and help your body absorb your migraine medicine.
  • Cool down: Put an ice pack or cold cloth on your forehead or scalp to soothe aura discomfort, maybe while lying in a dark, quiet room.
  • Relax: Stress-induced migraines are very real (see below). Consider managing stress with things like yoga, meditation, acupuncture, or massage therapy.
  • Get consistent sleep: Too much sleep — or too little — might trigger headaches. Shoot for 7 to 8 hours each night, while going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Hydrate: Plenty of fluids (especially water) may help ward off symptoms.
  • Exercise: Endorphins from a regular workout may help prevent headaches.

Stress and migraines

Stress is a common trigger for migraines.7 They may be caused by stress-related changes in brain chemicals, like serotonin (which helps regulate pain). The key is to help manage your stress in a healthy and consistent way. What does that mean exactly? If your body is used to high stress, a weekend off to unwind may cause a “let down” migraine. So, it’s important to navigate and lessen your stressors to help keep your body and mind in balance.7

How can I get help if I’m struggling with migraines?

Schedule a visit with your primary care provider (the doctor or provider you might see for your yearly exam). Have a conversation about your symptoms (be specific). From there, you may be referred to a headache specialist, like a neurologist.

Footnotes

  1. What Is Migraine? www.webmd.com, 2020.
  2. American Migraine Foundation www.americanmigrainefoundation.org, 2020.
  3. What Is Migraine? www.webmd.com, 2020.
  4. Migraine with Aura www.webmd.com, 2020.
  5. Migraine: Diagnosis & Treatment www.mayoclinic.org, 2020.
  6. Home remedies for migraines www.webmd.com, 2020.
  7. Stress and Migraine- How to Cope www.americanmiagrainefoundation.org, 2020.
  8. Migraine: Diagnosis & Treatment www.mayoclinic.org, 2020.