How to Treat a Migraine or Severe Headache: Strategies for Pain Relief
When you find yourself dealing with a migraine or severe headache, it can be difficult or impossible to focus on anything else until the pain subsides. Aside from taking medication, there are several ways to help relieve migraine pain and symptoms like light sensitivity, nausea, or dizziness. Here are five strategies for migraine relief that can make a huge difference.
Find a Dark Room
It is very common to experience sensitivity to light during a migraine. If you can, find a dark room where you can sit or lie down to rest when you feel a migraine coming on. Use blinds or curtains to block the windows, and use an eye mask or cold pack to block any extra light from your eyes. Try to take a nap if you can. If you can’t completely step away from what you’re doing, wearing sunglasses inside and turning off the lights can go a long way.
Try to Hydrate
Dehydration is a factor in causing some headaches and can also make headaches worse. If you are able, drink plenty of water and/or electrolyte-filled liquids to stay hydrated during a migraine.
Use a Cold Pack
Cold packs can provide one of the most immediate forms of relief when you’re suffering from a migraine or intense headache. The cold constricts blood vessels and alleviates symptoms by reducing inflammation. You can make your own cold pack by putting ice cubes in a towel, using a bag of frozen fruit or vegetables, or even using a damp washcloth. Make sure your cold pack is not too cold and causing pain on its own. Sometimes a cold shower can help as well! We recommend alternating 15 minutes with the cold pack and 15 minutes without.
Use a Heating Pad
Depending on where your symptoms are, a heating pad may be able to provide a different relief. Using a heating pad on the back of your neck or head can help relieve muscle tension that might be causing your headache. Make sure your heating pad is not so hot that it is burning you or causing skin irritation. Similarly to our last point, a hot shower or bath could also reduce muscle tension and help you relax.
Massage is an excellent way to relieve pain from a tension headache. Apply light pressure to your forehead, neck, temples, or other pain point for a few minutes at a time. You can also try a gentle massage on the back of your neck, shoulders, or upper arms.
Using these methods can help ease a severe headache or migraine pain apart from medication or work side-by-side with medication. If you are having trouble relieving headache pain or your headaches/migraines become more frequent, visit your primary care provider to see if you have further pain management or prevention options.
This post was first published on wfmchealth.org.