Movement can make migraines throb. Make sure your friend has a comfy place to lie still and rest their aching head.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Call the Doctor
It's time to reach out to a doctor if your friend has:
Different pain than usual
Shortness of breath
Loss of vision or consciousness
A stiff neck
A headache that lasts over 72 hours with a duration of four hours or less pain-free
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.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY:
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.”