But once your attack is over, you should be thinking about how to prevent your next migraine…or at least trying to reduce the duration and frequency of your attacks.
So, when it comes to how to stop a migraine, you and your healthcare provider need to be working on two fronts:
1) Pain and symptom relief and
How to Stop a Migraine Before It Happens
Eat and Sleep Well
Since fatigue and irregular eating and sleeping habits are common triggers of migraines, it makes sense that how you can stop a migraine—or at least relieve some of your symptoms and perhaps shorten the duration—is to eat a healthy diet and get regular, uninterrupted sleep.
Avoid Migraine Triggers
Triggers are the activities, events, foods, behaviors and environmental stimuli that may help set off a chemical chain reaction. Common triggers include stress, bright lights, irregular eating and sleeping habits, fatigue, and food additives (e.g., MSG, nitrates and artificial sweeteners). Once you identify your migraine triggers, you need to modify your habits and avoid conditions under which triggers occur.
Use Preventive Medications
While medications may be helpful, always take the lowest dosages capable of delivering results. In this way, you may have fewer side effects and reduce chances of suffering medication overuse headaches (also known as rebound headaches). Similarly, once on a drug, do not suddenly stop taking it without your doctor’s advice as this can cause rebound headaches. Medications include:
A series of Botox injections in the head and neck, repeated every 12 weeks, may reduce the frequency of chronic migraines and inhibit chemicals that transmit pain.
- Anti-seizure drugs
Anti-epileptic drugs may help calm hyperexcited neurons in the brain.
This class of drugs regulates serotonin levels to reduce pain and possibly prevent menstrual-related migraines.
- Beta blockers
Often used to treat high blood pressure, these drugs help improve blood flow.
Try Alternative and Natural Treatments
If stress is contributing to the frequency of your migraines, you may want to explore options such as:
Biofeedback monitors and measures many of your automatic and involuntary body functions—e.g., heart rate, breathing, brain waves—so you can identify activities that may increase stress and alter your behavior.
- Cardio Exercise
Regular mild-to-moderate workouts, including swimming, jogging and cycling may be as effective as some drugs.1
- Meditation and Massage
Treat your whole body for stress relief with a mind-body combination of therapies.
How to Stop Migraine Pain and Symptoms
Find a Quiet, Dark Room
Removing external stimuli, such as loud noises and bright lights, may be one of the oldest treatments for migraine pain along with cold compresses applied to the neck and forehead.
Try Natural Remedies
If you want to try relieving pain without the side effects of medication, try capsaicin cream (the active ingredient in cayenne pepper) or one of several essential oils (peppermint, basil or lavender oil). You can apply all these remedies topically. However, consult your physician before starting any natural regimen and always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil (such as sweet almond) before applying to skin.
Opt for Medication
If you need additional help relieving pain, start with non-prescription analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Start slowly with low doses, increasing only as needed. The same strategy applies when using prescription triptans and narcotic analgesics, such as opiates and opioids. These drugs can be highly addictive, so be careful with your use of them.
While migraines are a chronic condition, there are many natural and medical ways to prevent and treat them. Work with your doctor to find the solution that’s right for you.