When you’re diagnosed with migraine, it’s always there, lurking in the background. Whether you’re at work, out with your friends, on a date night or relaxing at home an attack can strike anytime, anywhere. The best way to keep migraine from worsening or becoming a runaway attack is to treat it early, at the very first sign of symptoms. Because it’s always an unknown when an attack will happen, consider making it a priority to be prepared in any circumstance by creating a migraine attack relief kit for home and for travel. Then tuck it away in a planned spot in your home and/or car so you’re always ready to take action.
Writers of Migraine Strong are often asked what we reach for in our own relief kits. I’ll share many of the items you’ll find in my emergency kit as you read on. I’m diagnosed with the migraine variant Vestibular Migraine and Meniere’s Disease as well. As a result you’ll find dizzy rescue items in my relief kit in addition to my migraine relief products.
** While Migraine Strong writes about the latest in migraine treatments, this is not medical advice. We are patient educators and all information you read should be discussed with your doctor.
First gather your migraine relief kit container
Start by finding a bag, basket, tin or box that you love. For me the container is important. It should be large enough to fill not only with treatments, but also the items you find the most comforting during an attack, yet small enough to be tucked away. Migraine attacks are truly dreadful. So I do my best to make them a little less terrible by reaching for something I love. Something that makes me happy & brings me comfort to see or even touch it.
Pouches are my personal favorite especially if they’re soft. The three you see above I actually received as freebies when I purchased new make-up last year. I use them to hold my smaller items and keep larger migraine relief items in a basket under my nightstand. This makeup pouch from Amazon looks soothing, is waterproof and includes inside pockets to hold your migraine sticks.
Now let’s talk about ideas for items to fill your migraine relief kit with.
1- Eye Protection
Some of my favorite products are items I use to help me prevent an attack before it begins as well as items that are soothing during a migraine attack. Let’s start with light sensitivity. Spending too much time in front of light that’s emitting from electronic devices and exposure to flashing light is my migraine nemesis everyday, but especially during an attack.
This can be anything from driving through dappled light, emergency vehicles passing by or water droplets running down my windshield during a rainstorm. I’m not sure if it’s just a vestibular migraine issue or if it’s true for most with migraine but, moving light in general is just tough.
To help, I keep outdoor glasses from Theraspecs in my bag along with Migraine Shields for extended screen time. In my photo you see Blue Tech. That’s because mine are old, they re-branded to Migraine Shields after my purchase. I have a small face & chose their smallest size, but they’re very small even for me. I’d recommend choosing a size medium for most women and a large for men. You can save 20% on Migraine Shields with the code MIGRAINESTRONG. This inexpensive set from Amazon looks lovely too.
A blackout (sleeping) mask is another great item to tuck into your at home migraine relief kit. They’re available in heated and iced versions as well. I received my Nodpod in a subscription box and I absolutely LOVE it. It’s lightly weighted and covers my ears too. But, this one with a removable cooling insert also looks delightful.
Have you heard about Allay Lamp? Created by Harvard research team this lamp emits a very narrow band of green light found to be the most soothing to see. Save 10% with code MIGRAINESTRONG.
2- Ear Protection
Many of us with migraine disease experience noise sensitivity called hyperacusis all that time that becomes more severe during a migraine attack. But, we don’t want to miss out on fun activities with my family or my friends. Every fall I attend a concert in the park series that I’d be so sad to miss. So ear protection is imperative. I tuck earplugs away in my migraine relief kit and honestly often into my pockets & take them out as needed. These are so helpful when you come across unexpected noise triggers.
I like Mack’s soft foam earplugs because there super soft and inexpensive so it’s no big deal when I forget them in my pockets and send them through the wash. If you have any trouble getting water into your ears these water proof ear plugs called Aqua plugs are great for the shower or pool. Earplanes are another great ear protection to tuck into your kit for protection when flying. And WeatherX earplugs are perfect if you’re sensitive to barometric fluctuations.
As someone with vestibular migraine and Meniere’s disease my ears are super sensitive to loud noise all the time. I haven’t purchased them yet, but I’m really interested in trying Flare Audio Calmer earplugs made to gently soothe sound sensitivity for those with sensitive hearing.
When my ears are screaming loud with tinnitus, I often feel increased fullness and ear pressure as well. So I reach for supplements to increase blood flow in the small capillaries in my inner ear and reduce inflammation to help turn the volume down on tinnitus and ease pressure. I use Lindberg Bioflavonoids to reduce the feeling of pressure in my ears and love them, but they are expensive. Nature’s Life makes a more reasonable option that I also consider to be a high quality option. You can also try Ginko Biloba for this.
Check out the Migraine Strong supplement dispensary where we offer a nice discount on supplements.
Over the counter medications to relieve ear pressure
You see Advil in my relief kit for ear pressure relief. My neurotologist recommends one tablet every four hours until pressure subsides. There is a tube that runs from your ears to your nose called a Eustachian tube. Afrin helps to open it relieving ear pressure as well. Use it only as a rescue to avoid rebound issues and consult your own doctor before using either medication.
3- Nose Protection- Otherwise Known as Essential Oils
I’ve developed a new love for essential oils. I’ve never been into them pre-diagnosis, but now I have those little bottles and rollers not only in my migraine relief kit, but all over the house. I can no longer wear synthetic fragrances or burn candles in the house so I’ve found some beautiful mixes to use as personal fragrance. Others I use as home fresheners in a diffuser instead of those triggering candles.
In addition to home freshening and fragrance, essential oils help relieve some of my symptoms like neck tension, nausea and head pain. And if that’s not enough, I also use them to help mask exposure to triggering smells. Seriously, where have these little rollers been my whole life? Migrasoothe is great because a swipe under the nose works to mask those smells yet is mild enough to not trigger an attack. Forces of Nature Migraine roller ball is homeopathic medicine to roll on your temples, neck or head to help relieve pain. You can get 20% off your own roller ball by entering code MIGRAINEFON at checkout on their website.
I also enjoy the Migraine Stick by Migrastil which now also comes in extra strength. Save 15% with code MigraineStrong. Ruhe Roller Rescue is really light and pleasantly scented too. You can save 15% with promo code MIGRAINESTRONG. If you can put your hands on the Australian product called Migraine Escape I highly recommend it. It’s a ginger roller ball so strong it has a little bite after you apply it, but it’s followed by pain relief. I’m a little obsessed.
4- Anti Nausea Treatments
For on the go anti nausea I often reach for peppermint. The menthol in peppermint helps to relax tight tummy muscles and the cooling effect provides nausea relief for many. Just smelling peppermint like in this motion sickness stick can provide a similar calm. I keep peppermint oil in my migraine relief kit along with my favorite peppermint mints made locally here in Florida by Angel Mints.
When I’m home and an attack hits I reach for peppermint tea. Another effective herb that I always carry in my bag is ginger. Oh how we love ginger! I like Gin Gins ginger candies as well as Gaia Herbs Ginger Supreme capsules or Pure Encapsulations ginger capsules. When stubborn nausea happens I use prescription Reglan and keep it handy in my kit. For many more strategies to relieve nausea check out my nausea relief blog loaded with tips here.
5- Vertigo and Dizziness Treatment
When it comes to vertigo relief the first thing I reach for is my prescription benzo. You can try over the counter meclizine or Benadryl, but it never provided relief for me. In vestibular support groups you’ll read many posts from members that feel benzos should be avoided because they keep your brain from compensating for dizziness. There is some truth to that statement.
Benzos are vestibular suppressants, so a high dose over an extended period of time could possibly have negative effects for some, but for most of us they are extremely helpful in treating dizziness and kicking out vertigo attacks. Dr. Hain (A leading US vestibular migraine specialist) says that he has never had a single patient fail to compensate from taking a benzo. My personal doctor feels it’s cruel to make vestibular patients go without them.
In spite of my personal doctor’s beliefs, addiction can be an issue when it comes to benzos. They should be used short term (which I’ve seen defined as one to three months) and low dose to avoid addiction issues. I personally used a very low dose benzo for a couple of months at the onset of vestibular migraine to help dampen my daily dizziness & had no trouble compensating.
I have a prescription for the lowest dose of valium (2mg) which I cut it into quarters and take just a quarter when dizziness kicks in. This very tiny dose works for me. These days I almost never need it. I take it only occasionally as a rescue med so you will find valium in my migraine relief kit. Not all benzos are recommended for vestibular treatment and they’re also not safe for every vestibular disorder. Learn more about benzos for vestibular treatment here.
Many VMers also use acupressure dizzy relievers like Seabands. Blisslets makes a beautiful version that look more like bracelets than nausea relief bands. Save 15% with code MIGRAINESTRONG15. These little magical wrist bracelets really do help to relieve the nausea that holds hands with dizziness.
When vertigo strikes, I can’t stand to see the spinning so I like to keep a blackout mask on hand. Nodpod is my current go to. When we are dizzy our brain relies heavily on vision (what we see) and proprioception (what we feel) to determine where we are in space. Putting your body in contact with surfaces helps your brain realize you’re not actually moving. I love Nodpod’s weighted body blanket to help with proprioception grounding because it’s not too big or too heavy. It’s just perfect.
6- Magnesium- a “must” for your relief kit
I intentionally lean on supplements to help dampen dizziness and ease pain to try to reduce my number of medication days each month. I love both topical magnesium as well as ingested. For topical options, I reach for Life Flo magnesium lotion or Life Flo magnesium chloride flakes and soak my feet in them using a warming bubbly foot spa for about an hour. Peace Love Rally’s magnesium roller balls are really delightful as well. Transdermal magnesium always help to kick out dizziness that ramps up due to over stimulation during the day.
To supplement I use Pure Encapsulations magnesium glycinate , CogniMag or BioEmblem’s triple magnesium capsules. Magnesium is naturally calming and when I’m dizzy, I can’t get enough of it. This is one the strategy that helps me so much that I really hope you try it. Just know all forms of magnesium are not the same. They have varying absorption rates and some are energizing while others are calming. Learn more about magnesium in our wonderful article by Danielle Aberman, RDN.
7- Cold and Hot Packs
Pain is funny in that sometimes heat feels like the best soother and other times cold is the only way to ease it. I have a variety of cooling/ice products to choose from which is especially helpful when ice melts faster than you need it to. My go to cooling products include The Koldtec Halo, The Koldtec Ice Towel, The Koldtec Hattie. Save $10 on each Koldtec product with promo code MIGRAINESTRONG10. Releaf Pack is also nice as it provides a little extra weight for anxiety soothing too.
I really enjoy ice rollers too. For me they’re not only helpful in easing pain, but a great distraction from the pain as well. I received ice globes as a gift and I really like them and use them a lot. I think If I purchased them I’d choose the stainless steel ice globes with better handles. and Bekoool Cooling Relief Soft Gel Sheets are always on hand. If you find cold relieving, I strongly suggest keeping the sheets in your travel kit.
The warming products I use include this Huggaroo warming wrap (save 10% with link) and these Rael Heating Patches that are made for menstrual spots but awesome used anywhere on the body. You can’t go wrong with a high quality Pure Enrichment heating pad as well.
A water bottle should be at the very top of your list when you leave the house. First, because staying adequately hydrated is an effective migraine prevention. Second, because you just never know when you might need to take your migraine medication. So get after finding a bottle you love, carry it with you like it’s your job! Motivational water bottles help to keep me inspired to hydrate.
I like to reach for water that feels like a treat while I’m having an attack so I buy brands like Figi and Smart Water I don’t normally drink day to day. My attacks also come with nausea and vomiting so replenishing minerals without adding sugar or sugar substitutes is important to me. I use Trace Minerals Drops. Oasis from Cove is magnesium rich and made specifically for those with migraine making it a good option too.
I love to add a splash of RW Knutsen Tart Cherry Juice in my water bottle for a bit of flavor. As an added bonus Tart Cherry juice is said to help ease pain and it’s great with fizzy water like Pellegrino or Topo Chico as a homemade head safe soda too.
9- Muscle Rub
I’m a sucker for muscle rubs. I mean seriously, this is another item that I have multiple versions of all over the house. My neck gets so tight while I’m having an attack so I like having pain soothing rubs nearby to use on my neck, shoulders and temples to help relax the muscles. I also use rollers to ease allodynia (pain spots) around my face and head. There are loads of pain rubs and rollers out there but my most reached for item’s are Bio Freeze, Migrastil Soothing Neck and Shoulder relief, J.R. Watkins Pain Relief Roll On, Ruhe Head Soothing Jelly and Tiger Balm. You can save 15% on Migrastil and Ruhe Well products with promo code MigraineStrong.
CBD is worth trying to ease pain or anxiety that comes with migraine attacks. I haven’t brought myself to ingest it yet, but I absolutely love the rubs, lotions and soaks. I typically use Lord Jones and Primal Botanical brands. You can save 10% on Primal Botanical CBD products with promo code Strong10.
When stubborn pain hangs around I use prescription strength (now sold over the counter) Voltaren Gel which my doctor describes as topical Advil. Gua Sha massage paired with pain relief balms helps as well. KT Tape works by increasing blood flow to pain areas and is amazing for stubborn, lingering pain making it a great item to keep in your relief kit. You know how you find yourself holding pain areas? KT Tape does the holding for you!
10- Don’t Forget To Include Medication In Your Migraine Relief Kit
Lastly of course you’ll need the medications your doctor includes in your abortive and rescue treatment plans in your relief kit. For me, these include triptan nasal spray, Timolol Eye Drops, naproxen and more. Because I have vestibular migraine my kit includes vertigo rescue medications like valium, Reglan for nausea and methazolamide for ear pressure relief. Your prescribed medications will likely be very different from mine. Learn much more about abortive medications in our informative migraine cocktail article.
Note- All of this is based on my own personal experience in finding control over my once daily symptoms. Please consult your doctor before trying any new treatments.
I’d love to know what you carry in your migraine relief kit. You can talk to me by leaving me a comment below or visiting me on our Migraine Strong Instagram or Facebook pages.