woman laying in dark bedroom
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Prep Their Bed

Movement can make migraines throb. Make sure your friend has a comfy place to lie still and rest their aching head.

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dark room
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Turn Out the Lights

A common symptom of migraines is sensitivity to light, or photophobia. Dim the lights, shut the blinds, and help bring on the darkness so your friend gets some relief.

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woman taking out trash
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Ease Their Queasiness

Someone with migraines can feel nauseated when the pain comes. They may even vomit. Get rid of any smells that might make your friend sicker. Have anti-nausea meds on hand, too. Just make sure your friend's doctor has approved them.

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dog with leash in mouth
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Help With the To-Do List

Nothing halts a day quite like a migraine. Walk the dog, pick up the kids from school, or run other errands. That'll help keep your friend's life humming while they recover.

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man calling doctor
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Track Their Meds

If this isn’t your friend's first migraine, they probably have either over-the-counter or prescription medications close by. Make sure they take the meds they need to help kick the pain to the curb. Call the doctor first if you’re not sure how much to give them.

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woman with ice pack on head
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Keep a Cool Head

A cold compress on the forehead can soothe migraine pain. Have ice packs or cool washcloths on hand. Make sure to replace them as they get uncomfortable.

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woman reading book to girl
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Keep Quiet

All your senses can feel under attack when a migraine hits. In addition to lowering the lights, keep the sound down around someone in the midst of pain. You can:

  • Take kids and pets to another area.
  • Shut the door to their room.
  • Turn off TVs and music.

Earplugs or headphones can give you even more relief from noise. Have some close by as an extra option.

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peppermint oil
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Offer Aromatherapy

Some smells can trigger migraine pain, but some scents can help it. Lavender, peppermint, and tangerine are three that can ease head pain. You can use scented lotions on their skin, or try essential oils diluted in a diffuser or on a washcloth.

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cup of water
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Push Fluids

Dehydration can trigger migraines. If nausea isn’t a problem, bring on the water. Keep your friend hydrated, and you can help keep their pain from ramping up and getting worse.

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man getting head massage
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Apply a Little Pressure

Some people find that a gentle push on their temples can ease the pain of a migraine. You can also massage their scalp. Be ready to stop if it gets to be too much or if it isn’t helping.

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checking on sleeping woman
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Check In

Don’t be a pest, but peek in from time to time, in case your friend needs something. Shouting out or looking at a phone screen to text somebody can be hard when your head is throbbing.

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woman with headache in car
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Take the Wheel

The world can’t always stop for people with a migraine. Driving while in pain isn’t safe. Being someone’s ride when their pain hits can be a big help.

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man hugging sick woman
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Be Understanding

Migraines hurt. Take their pain seriously, and let them know you’re there to help. Emotional support can make a world of difference for the person in pain.

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woman calling doctor
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Call the Doctor

It's time to reach out to a doctor if your friend has:

  • Different pain than usual
  • Numbness
  • Trouble speaking
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • A stiff neck

Keep a list of their symptoms, and let the doctor know what medications they have taken, in case the pain makes it hard for them to talk for themselves.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 07/19/2019 Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on July 19, 2019


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The Migraine Trust: “Symptoms and stages of migraine,” “Acupuncture.”

Office on Women’s Health: “Migraine Fact Sheet.”

American Migraine Foundation: “Photophobia - What Is It? Can It Be Treated?” “Complementary Therapies and Coping Tools.”

Patient Related Outcome Measures: “Optimal management of severe nausea and vomiting in migraine: improving patient outcomes.”

American Family Physician: “Migraine Headaches: How to Deal with the Pain.”

Handbook of Clinical Neurology: “Triggers of migraine and tension-type headache.”

Cleveland Clinic: “When to Call the Doctor about Your Headache Symptoms.”

CMAJ: “Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial.”

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on July 19, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.