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How to Get Rid of a Migraine — What Gets Rid of Migraines?

If you’ve ever dealt with migraines in your life, then I bet you know the feeling of wanting to bang your head against the wall to offset the terrible banging going on *inside* your poor brain. And I feel you! Since you’re here reading this right now, then I can also bet that you’re probably in the throes of an attack right now and need instant relief from the literally mind-numbing pain.

Ugh, I’m so sorry.

Here’s the thing, the first step to actually getting rid of migraines, is knowing what triggers them, explains Shae Datta, MD, director of concussion and cognitive neurology at NYU Langone Hospital in New York. “Frequency and triggers vary from person to person, but they might include things like stress, alcohol, lack of sleep, or dehydration,” she explains. “Learn yours, and then you can figure out quick relief.”

With your triggers in mind, here are some steps that you can take to get rid of (or, at the very least, find some relief from) your migraine symptoms, straight from an expert.

Turn off the lights

Light sensitivity is one of the biggest, baddest celebrities in the world of migraine symptoms. If you’re dealing with this symptom, Dr. Datta suggests hanging out in a room where you can shut off any light sources and bask in the darkness.

Pssst, this also goes for any phone or computer usage too. That blue light is not helping anything!

Use a cold compress

A lot of patients often find migraine relief by applying something cold, like an ice pack or damp washcloth, to their heads. While you can place it pretty much everywhere that feels good to you, this method is especially helpful for back-of-the-head or neck pain, says Dr. Datta.

You can use a simple one from your freezer or lean into fancy, schmancy ice packs out there that wrap around your head and live your best Moira Rose life. But, truly, do whatever feels good to you.

Eat all the ginger

FYI: Migraines come with so much more than just head pain (lol, fun!). If you’re dealing with any nausea in the middle of an attack, reach for anything with ginger, since the A+ root has long been used for its nausea-reducing effects. Think ginger ale, ginger tea, or a ginger lozenge.

Give yourself a massage

To relieve any pain and pressure happening in your neck or the back of your head, Dr. Datta recommends slowly massaging your shoulders and neck with a warm compress. Together, this combo loosens up the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

Meanwhile, if you’re feeling pain mainly in your temples or the front of your head, you can take two fingers and slowly but deeply massage your temples in a circular motion.

Take some meds*

*on a full stomach, to stave off the nausea. 😉

In the moment, you should definitely reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) NSAID like ibuprofen or Excedrin. But if those don’t work, Dr. Datta suggests consulting a doctor about triptans, a type of prescription drug made specifically for migraines that you can take when you feel one coming on.

Sip caffeine

If you’ve ever skipped your daily cup of coffee in the morning and dealt with the ensuing headache, you’re probably reading this like ?!?!?!. Yeah, it sounds counter-intuitive, but it definitely works—in fact, most OTC headache and migraine medications already contain caffeine!

“Caffeine stops the spasming of the blood vessels that surround the brain, narrowing them and preventing the intense blood flow and pressure that’s causing the headache,” explains Dr. Datta. So go ahead, sip some coffee, black tea, or even a Red Bull—but don’t drink too much or you could run into the dreaded rebound headaches.

Oh, uh, definitely skip this tip if caffeine is one of your triggers. That won’t help anyone!

Get some sleep

For many people who suffer from migraines, it’s instinctive to want to hide under a comforter, curl up in a ball, and just sleep it off. So here’s the good news: When you go to sleep, your body resets all of its pain signals, making it one of the most perfect in-the-moment migraine treatments out there.

If you’re having trouble actually falling asleep, thanks to any caffeine you may have had or because it’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, you can give a sleep aid like melatonin a go.

Meditate or do some light exercise

A slow walk, yoga, or a quick meditation sesh can really help you focus on your breathing and distract you from the pain going on in your bod. But the keyword here is light, people. Dr. Datta explains that the last thing you’re going to want to do is to start a HIIT workout or lift weights, which can increase your intracranial pressure and pain thanks to increased blood flow. Keep it chill!

Drink! Water!

Seriously, folks! You can be taking all of these meds and drinking this caffeine, but your body and mind are just super dehydrated (which is a common trigger, remember?). While Dr. Datta stresses that it won’t get rid of your migraine immediately, it will help within a half hour or so. Peace, love, water.

Reach out to a doc

If this is your first migraine or they’ve been becoming more frequent in recent months, you should reach out to a doctor. “Everyone is different, and every migraine is different,” explains Dr. Datta. “By talking with a doctor you two can create a treatment plan that works best for you and your triggers and symptoms.”

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