Treatment of nausea associated with migraine

Between 20% and 50% of people with migraines also have nausea and vomiting with some or all of their episodes. Adults usually have nausea with more severe migraines. For many adults with migraines, nausea is one of the most distressing symptoms.

Childhood migraines, on the other hand, can involve alone nausea and vomiting. In fact, children often don’t have headaches or other migraine symptoms.

Nausea and vomiting associated with migraine can be managed. Still, treatment can be a challenge because nausea can make it difficult to swallow medications that can provide relief. If you feel nauseous, you may also be hesitant to take medications that treat the headache itself, which can make things worse.

This article discusses nausea and vomiting as features of migraines. It also offers suggestions on how to get relief.

Alright / Cindy Chung

Home remedies and lifestyle

There are simple things you can do yourself to relieve your migraine-related nausea.

  • Loosen your clothes, especially around your belly
  • Take deep, slow breaths
  • Apply an ice pack to your head or neck
  • Open a window or go outside for fresh air
  • Eat a small amount of bland food
  • Avoid strong tasting and smelling foods
  • Stay hydrated by sipping water, unsweetened tea, or clear broth

It may also help to just let yourself vomit. It can relieve the uncomfortable feeling of nausea.

Over-the-Counter Therapies

Over-the-counter (OTC) therapies can help relieve nausea. These include medicines to treat motion sickness, such as:

  • Dramamine (dimenhydrinate)
  • Bonine (meclizine)
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

These medications may also relieve other migraine symptoms such as dizziness.

Motion sickness medications generally work better for migraine-related nausea than the over-the-counter treatments typically used for stomach issues. That said, you can also try:

to sum up

You may find it helpful to use simple at-home therapies like staying hydrated, eating something bland, or slowing your breathing. Over-the-counter medications for the treatment of motion sickness can also help relieve migraine-related nausea.

Prescription drugs

If you have severe nausea with your migraines, your doctor may suggest prescription medication. Some options include:

These medications help relieve nausea and are available in a variety of forms, including:

  • Dissolvable pills
  • Syrups
  • suppositories
  • Injections

Sometimes anti-nausea prescriptions are used to treat migraines even when nausea is not a major symptom.

When you are nauseous, it may be difficult to take medication by mouth. Strategize on the best way to take your migraine medication. Only you can decide if you are more likely to reduce your medication with food, drink, or nothing.

Several migraine medications like Imitrex (sumatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), and Migranal (dihydroergotamine) are available in other forms, such as:

  • Inhalable
  • Injectables
  • suppositories

If you are severely nauseous, this may make them easier to tolerate.

Complementary and alternative medicine

Alternative therapies may also benefit migraine symptoms, including nausea.

Ginger

Ginger is a common natural treatment for nausea. There are several ways to take it:

  • Eat a raw slice of a ginger root
  • Sucking on a ginger candy
  • Make a cup of ginger tea
  • Drink a cold ginger ale

Acupressure

Acupressure is an alternative medicine practice derived from Chinese medicine. It involves the use of pressure points to relieve health problems. There is evidence that stimulation of the PC6 acupressure point on the forearm can reduce migraine-related nausea.

To find this point, position your arm with the palm facing you. Place three fingers horizontally at the base of your palm. Just below your fingers, look for the two tendons in the center of your forearm. The PC6 pressure point is located in the middle of these two tendons.

A Sea-Band is a bracelet that exerts continuous pressure on this acupressure point. Try using one to help relieve nausea during a migraine attack.

aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves inhaling concentrated essential oils. It is generally considered safe, but studies supporting its effectiveness are limited. So far, it has not been scientifically proven to relieve nausea associated with migraine. Still, some people find it useful.

Popular oils used for migraine-related nausea include lavender oil and eucalyptus oil.

Cannabis

Medical marijuana has been used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in states where it is legal. So far, there have been no proven benefits for migraines. Although more and more people are using cannabis for various health issues, make sure you know the laws in your area. Cannabis use may have legal consequences in states where it is prohibited.

Different therapies have different safety issues. Always ask your doctor before trying any alternative treatment for your migraine-related nausea.

Summary

Many migraine sufferers also experience nausea during an attack. Fortunately, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help relieve this distressing symptom.

Simple home remedies like staying hydrated and applying ice can also help. Some people also get relief from alternative medicine therapies like acupressure or aromatherapy.

A word from Verywell

Cyclic Vomiting syndrome is another condition characterized by vomiting and increased sensitivity to smells. It is only rarely associated with other symptoms, such as headaches or sensitivity to bright lights.

Researchers believe that cyclic vomiting syndrome may be similar to migraines in terms of what happens in the brain. Some think it may even be a type of migraine. This condition often improves with the treatments generally used for migraines.

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