How to Treat Migraines

According to Greek mythology, Zeus, the king of the gods, was once stricken with such an intense headache that he bashed his head against a rock. His head split open and Athena, the goddess of wisdom, sprang out. Talk about a splitting headache! The creator of this myth must have been familiar with migraines. The pain and nausea of a migraine headache is sometimes enough to tempt you to bash your aching head against a rock, but that would only make your headache worse. Fortunately, there are real solutions to your pain.

A migraine is a vascular headache, which means it involves changes in blood flow to the brain. For some reason, certain people have blood vessels that react strongly to various triggers. These blood vessels tend to go into spasms in response to triggers such as stress, and they set off a chain reaction of increasing constric­tion. When these blood vessels constrict and get smaller, the brain receives less oxygen-rich blood.


For some people with migraines, this loss of oxygen to the brain results in an “aura,” or a set of warning signals that usually occur before the headache pain begins. Auras usually last about 15 to 30 minutes and involve visual changes. You may lose part of your vision tem­porarily, or you may see flashes, dots, or zigzags of light. Your body then tries to make up for this loss of oxygen by dilating or widening certain arteries in your brain.

This widening causes the release of pain-producing sub­stances called prostaglandins and chemicals that increase your sensitivity to pain. All this adds up to an intense throbbing in your head.

You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, for your migraines, but for the best results, you have to take it as soon as your headache begins. If your migraines are severe and interfere with your life, your doctor can prescribe medicine that may help.

If you already have a migraine, try the suggestions below to help ease your pain.

  • Remain in the dark. Many migraine sufferers become very sensitive to light during a headache episode. Draw the shades and turn out the lights for relief.
  • Put your headache on ice. Putting ice packs on your aching head may help reduce the swelling of blood vessels and give you a little relief.
  • Put on the pressure. During a migraine, you may try pressing firmly on the bulging artery that is located in front of your ear on the same side of your head as the pain.
  • Drink some Java. Coffee is an old remedy for hangovers. While it may or may not sober people up, it can help prevent the hangover headache. A small amount of caffeine may do the same for people with migraines. Caffeine is a vasoconstric­tor, which means that it causes blood vessels to narrow. When the blood vessels in your head are painfully swollen, a little caffeine may be just your cup of tea.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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