10 Actions To Take When Your Migraines Become More Severe

I'm talking specifically to the people who have had them in the past but suddenly the migraine has become much worse.

JUST THE BASICS

1. If you've been taking ibuprofen or aspirin, take it with caffeine.

2. If that doesn't work, next time try Excedrin Migraine or it's generic equivalent.

3. Submerge in a hot bath, place an icy washcloth on your forehead and your hands in a bowl of ice water.

4. Very gently stretch and roll your neck muscles for at least twenty minutes. This should feel good and might prevent or alleviate secondary pain being caused by automatic teeth clenching.

5. If nausea is kicking in, try smelling lemons or fresh ginger.

6. Alternate a heat pack and an ice pack in the places where the pain is most intense. (Usually the temples or the forehead.)

7. I guess this should be number one, but go to the doctor immediately! They can help you! If you're in really tough shape, you can get iv fluids and pain medication. Later, you can work with them to discover what your migraine trigger is. For some, it's unknown food allergies. For others (like me) it's jaw misalignment, arthritis and bruxism.

It could really be anything, but once you know your trigger, you can prevent this!

8. Drink at least a glass or two of fresh, filtered water.

9. Do everything you can to try to go to sleep. I know it's hard, but go to bed, shut out all light and turn on a fan if you can!

10. Hum a long, low note repeatedly. (I know this feels a little out there...but try it. Think Billy Crystal's moaning from "When Harry Met Sally"!)

Please take good care. This migraine will end and sooner than you think. Try to think happy thoughts and relax. I know it's counter-intuitive, but it helps.

MORE DETAILS?

 

Last night, my realtor posted something on facebook about how her migraines had suddenly escalated to a new level of pain. That's a sorority/fraternity I sure do hate to welcome new members into. Poor thing. (But she's a great realtor if you're looking to move to Florida, FYI!)

Like a lot of my fellow migraine sufferers, I've taken up the task of trying to be the first person to reply with the most advice when anyone posts on a social network about a migraine. Why? Because I know how terrifying they are.

I need people to know they're not alone when the world comes to a screeching halt via this new excruciating pain. Every human being is so different, and the pain and circumstances of each migraine are like special little snowflakes. (FYI, I wrote this long before "snowflakes" had a weird connotation and I refuse to delete the word.)

I find the advice of my actual human friends tends to beat the advice of a search engine literally every single time.

1. Introduce caffeine to your routine. A cup of coffee's worth is a good place to start. Try that with your regular dosage of aspirin or ibuprofen. Caffeine can aid in the delivery of medicine through your blood stream for cool science reasons.

Just be careful not to overdo it. (By the way, I just found that website via Googling "caffeine and migraine". I'm pscyhed I found them and will be doing a deep dive later today and adding them to my resource list here!)

2. If that doesn't help, next time switch from ibuprofen to Excedrin Migraine or it's generic equivalent.

Make sure to research in advance or read, let's be real, have a loved one read about not mixing medications while using this. It's powerful. (Because seriously, reading is literally impossible when a migraine hits. Hello, white flashes!)

3. Hot baths and icy washcloths can help! The best advice I ever got was from a fellow performer. (Performers seem to suffer an inordinate amount of migraines. Someone please do a study on this.)

-Run a hot bath and have a bowl of ice water and a washcloth nearby.

-Submerge into the hot bath.

-Soak the washcloth in the ice water and put it wherever your pain is worst. It's usually the eyes or the temples.

-Then, place your hands in the ice water.

I do not understand the science of how or why this helps, but it truly does. Please try it. Also, if you have Epsom Salts, definitely use them! Especially if they have a soothing scent like lavender. (I've been desperately searching for Bergamot bath salts so I can feel like I'm steeping in a giant cup of Earl Grey too. So far, no luck...)

4. If your migraines are chronic, acute or frequent, start working stretching or yoga into your daily life. There's so much clenching and muscle trauma involved in a migraine and I've experienced a cumulative effect with mine.

In other words, the more you have migraines, the more you have migraines. Think of it like a snowball of pain. (Aaaand I just invented the name of my metal band.) My bouts with migraines tend to return less frequently when I force myself to do at least 20 minutes of stretching my neck muscles and back as the fog lifts.

5. Use scent therapy. A lot of pregnant women talk about finding a scent that helps them through morning sickness. Migraines can bring intense nausea and vomiting, but experimenting with scents when the first wave of nausea hits can help you find something that greatly reduces the nausea. Citrus and ginger are great scents to try.

I know this one sounds weird, but it helps. When you first start to feel nauseous, cut a lemon or an orange in half and inhale the scent via several deep breaths. The deep breathing alone is a great help!

6. Balance ice with heat. I used to just do ice packs, but a wonderful masseuse explained to me exactly how the muscles are effected by clenching from things like tmj and migraines. Maybe I should interview her here.

The point is, heat relaxes the muscles and ice treats inflammation. If you have a migraine, chances are you will need both treatments.

7. Go to the doctor! I once had a migraine so bad, I landed in the emergency room because I literally could not stop retching. (TMI, I know.) It was extremely costly. As in, I'm still paying off the bill years later, but it was worth it.

A lot of us rely on the advice of friends when it comes to migraines, which is great. I mean, you're here reading this. But a doctor could diagnose your migraine triggers and offer you preventative medication. Your migraines could be a sign that you have an untreated disorder of some kind.

For example, I had them for years and most people told me it was probably a food allergy. I even had a couple doctors during those years who said they were common and probably caused by food, then left it at that. But it turned out to be a signal of my TMD and because it wasn't caught early enough, well...here I am still writing about it.

8. Hydrate! Drink all the water. It's simple but it helps. Have at least one or two glasses. This is especially important if you start feeling nauseous.

9. Isolate yourself in a dark, quiet room and do your best to go to sleep. Pull the shades, turn on a fan or a white noise machine if you have one. Try your best to go to sleep. Sleep is such a restorative state and it's a mercy when you can sleep a migraine away and wake up feeling human again.

10. This is probably my weirdest advice, but hum. Humming a long, low tone repeatedly has helped my migraine pain intensely in the past. That may be because mine is related to my TMD and TMD has to do with the jaw muscles. I honestly don't know. But when you're in intense pain, sometimes you get desperate and try anything!

I try to use medicine as a last resort. When you have chronic pain and you take a lot of medicine on a regular basis, you worry about the cumulative long-term effects. But you also think, "Oh dear sweet Lord (literally) I'm in agony and would do anything to make it stop." So there's that perspective too.

I try to use medicine as a last resort. When you have chronic pain and you take a lot of medicine on a regular basis, you worry about the cumulative long-term effects. But you also think, "Oh dear sweet Lord (literally) I'm in agony and would do anything to make it stop." So there's that perspective too.