As many as 20% to 50% of migraineurs have associated nausea or vomiting with their migraine episodes. Nausea is often reported as one of the most distressing aspects of having a migraine. There are many ways to help manage your nausea ranging from simple at home techniques, natural supplements, over the counter medications and prescription medications.
The following suggestions are some simple things you can do at home that may make the nausea more manageable. Doing things such as loosening your clothes (especially around your stomach) or taking deep slow breaths may provide some relief. Applying an ice pack to your head or neck, opening a window or stepping outside to get fresh air can help with feeling nauseous. When nauseous it is good to avoid foods with strong tastes and odors. When attempting to eat, start with small amounts of food and make sure the food is bland. Staying hydrated is also important, try small sips of water, tea, ginger ale or clear broth.
Alternative therapies can also be beneficial for migraine symptoms, specifically the associated nausea. Ginger is a great natural option used in the treatment of nausea. Ginger can be consumed in many different forms such as raw slices directly from ginger root, ginger candy, ginger tea, ginger ale. Acupressure is a method of Chinese medicine and another beneficial alternative therapy for migraine associated nausea. Stimulation of acupressure point PC6, which is located on the forearm, can decrease nausea associated with migraines. You can manually massage this area or purchase items such as wristbands that stimulate this area. Additionally, alternative therapies such as aromatherapy can be helpful with nausea. Inhaling concentrated essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus may provide symptom relief.
There are also many over-the-counter therapies that are effective for nausea. Medications commonly used for the treatment of motion sickness, such as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), Bonine (meclizine), and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) often help with nausea. Over-the-counter treatments typically used for gastrointestinal issues such as Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) may also be helpful but are less effective than treatments for motion sickness.
If you have severe nausea with your migraines, your provider may suggest a prescription anti-nausea medication. Effective options include Zofran (ondansetron) and Reglan (metoclopramide). These medications are available in different formulations that may be more tolerable if nauseous, such as dissolvable pills, suppositories, and injections. Treating the actual migraine may also help with the nausea. Keep in mind that prescriptions medications for your migraine also come in more tolerable formulations. They are often available in inhalable, injectable, suppositories, or dissolving forms which can be more tolerable for you if you are severely nauseated.
– Caroline Pruski, NP