Headache - migraine - self-care; Vascular headache - self-care
A migraine is a common type of headache. It may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. Most people feel a throbbing pain on only one side of their head during a migraine.
Some people who get migraines have warning signs, called an aura, before the actual headache begins. An aura is a group of symptoms that includes vision changes. An aura is a warning sign that a bad headache is coming.
Migraine headaches can be triggered by certain foods. The most common are:
Alcohol, stress, hormonal changes, skipping meals, lack of sleep, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, exercise, and cigarette smoking may also trigger a migraine.
Try to treat your symptoms right away. This may help make the headache less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:
Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, are often helpful when your migraine is mild.
Your health care provider may have prescribed medicines to stop a migraine. These drugs come in different forms. They may come as a nasal spray, rectal suppository, or injection instead of pills. Other medicines can treat nausea and vomiting.
Follow your provider's instructions about how to take all of your medicines. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They can occur from overuse of pain medicine. If you take pain medicine more than 3 days a week on a regular basis, you can develop rebound headaches.
A headache diary can help you identify your headache triggers. When you get a headache, write down:
Review your diary with your provider to identify triggers or a pattern to your headaches. This can help you and your provider create a treatment plan. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid them.
Lifestyle changes that may help include:
If you have frequent migraines, your provider may prescribe medicine to reduce the number of them. You need to take this medicine every day for it to be effective. Your provider may have you try more than one drug before deciding which works best for you.
Call 911 or the local emergency number if:
Schedule an appointment or call your provider if:
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Garza I, Robertson CE, Smith JH, Whealy MA. Headache and other craniofacial pain. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 102.
Marmura MJ, Silberstein SD, Schwedt TJ. The acute treatment of migraine in adults: the American Headache Society evidence assessment of migraine pharmacotherapies. Headache. 2015;55(1):3-20. PMID: 25600718 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25600718/.
Waldman SD. Migraine headache. In: Waldman SD, ed. Atlas of Common Pain Syndromes. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 2.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/9/2021
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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