Migraine,  Nausea,  Vestibular Migraine

Migraine Nausea: 15 Tips to Help You Find Relief Now

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Nausea, that awful uneasiness you feel in your tummy is certainly one of the most uncomfortable symptoms that often tags along with the intense pain associated with migraine attacks.  It can occur quickly when you’re feeling the sudden dizziness of vestibular migraine attacks as well.  Nausea begins in the brain, stimulates our nervous system and causes our stomach muscles to dysfunction resulting in nausea. We’ll do anything to make it go away right? For the best success, you’ll want to treat it early, at the very first twinge of symptoms.  Read on for a list of 15 nausea relief tips to help you manage this hideous symptom so you begin to feel more comfortable in no time.

** 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.

1. Eat warm foods and drink warm liquids

Fluids are often better tolerated when you’re nauseous. That’s why broths and soups may be a good first step towards relief. They also provide hydration and electrolytes, which are particularly important if you have been vomiting.  Warm foods feel soothing on the tummy as opposed to something like a cold salad which is harder to digest. Potatoes, rice noodles and dry foods like crackers, toast and pretzels are often well tolerated too.  This recipe for chicken and brown rice soup from the Dizzy Cook combines many of these soothing foods and includes protein which can help to normalize stomach activity.  Be sure to stay upright for at least 30 minutes after eating to avoid making nausea symptoms worse. I also find sucking on candy to be soothing. These organic honey drops are a favorite.

chicken soup can help with migraine nausea
Photo Credit: Alicia Wolf

2. Fresh, cool air

It’s unclear why fresh, cool air helps to ease nausea symptoms but, for many of us it does.  Maybe because nausea often comes along with cold sweats, moving air just plain feels good.  If you live in a cool climate open a window or step outside and let the cold air wash over you.  If you live on the face of the sun like I do in Florida, crank your air conditioning down. I always carry this little fan that plugs right into my cell phone for instant breeze of relief anywhere.

3. Apply a cold compress

Placing a cool compress on the back of your neck or across your wrists may help calm nausea. If you’re using an ice pack from the freezer be sure to wrap it in a hand towel or let it sit out for a few minutes before applying it directly to your skin.  I really love this cold wrap made by Huggaroo.  I also love a full face cold compress or an ice roller that can be used anywhere that feels nice for you. The roller stays cold for more than an hour and won’t freeze your hand while you’re using it. As an added bonus it gets rid of face puffiness too! A cold towel can provide cooling relief as well and will help to prevent heat induced nausea.

4. Distraction

I’m not saying nausea is mind over matter, but the more you focus on it the worse it feels.  Try to shift your focus away from the queasiness. Binge on your favorite television show, engage in a creative activity or sit outside and focus on nature. I also highly recommend Alexa because you don’t have to move a bit.  Just say “Alexa play calming music” and in the case of a real emergency you can say “Alexa call 911”. I really love this version of the Amazon Echo because it’s portable so I can listed to music or my Migraine Strong Book Club selections even when I’m outside enjoying the garden.

5. Hydrate

Warm teas like chamomile, ginger and peppermint help soothe an upset tummy.  Hydration is important especially if nausea escalates from feeling like you’re going to throw up to actually doing it. Good old H2O is a great thing to reach for along with Gatorade or adding a pinch of sugar and salt to your water to help replenish lost electrolytes.  Some people find fizzy drinks help to ease nausea symptoms as well.  Using a portable water bottle is a great way to keep track of your daily water intake to avoid nausea resulting from dehydration.

6. Meditate and Breathe Deeply

Calming your mind can help you focus on relieving uncomfortable tummy feelings.  Deep breathing is a meditation technique that works especially well for stress-related nausea. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath for three seconds, and slowly breathe out. Repeat several times until nausea subsides. This is the perfect time for you to reach for your favorite relaxation app like Calm or Headspace.

7. Accupressure

Seabands are knitted elastic wristbands that work because of a plastic knob sewn into the inside of the wrist-band which puts pressure and stimulates the P6, or Nei-Kuan, acupressure point. Placing pressure on this point is said to relieve nausea and vomiting. If you don’t have these bands available, try placing your thumb on your inner wrist about two inches down and apply gentle pressure.

8. Ginger

My love for ginger knows no bounds so this is one of my favorite natural nausea treatment options. Whether you choose ginger spice, fresh ginger root, ginger-ale, ginger tea, ginger chews or ginger capsules this is one spice that gives migraine a one two punch by helping to abort pain as well as kicking nausea to the curb. Ginger is gastric calming which helps to ease nausea and vomiting. Here are our favorite teas and candies.

9. Peppermints & Essential Oils

Peppermint is a well documented Ayurvedic remedy for nausea. Eat peppermint candy or drink it in the form of tea to cut nausea symptoms. These are my favorite peppermints which are made locally in Florida where I live. Several people recommended peppermint essential oil to help with vertigo related nausea. Some people rub peppermint oil on their temples or behind their ears.  Just smelling peppermint can be helpful too. Run a bit of oil under your nose or put it in your room diffuser to feel it’s benefits.  I love to use my cell phone fan linked above after applying peppermint oil under my nose. Migraine Strong admin also love this Forces of Nature roller ball which is not only comforting during attacks but helps ease nausea too.  Use code NatureMS19 for 20% off your purchase.

10. Isopropyl Alcohol Pads 

This lesser known nausea relief tip is backed by a tiny research study.  Two trials with about 200 adults found inhaling (smelling) isopropyl alcohol improved mild to moderate nausea and vomiting.  Just hold the pad in the palm of your hands and take a breath through your nose every two minutes for a maximum of three inhalations. This is an inexpensive and easy way to find fast relief.

11. Over the Counter Medication

There are many over the counter medications available to manage nausea symptoms.  When your tummy starts gurgling try Dramamine, Bonine or meclizine.  Remember these medications are for short term use. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

12. Prescription Medication

Prescription medications can also provide rapid relief of migraine nausea.  Members of Migraine Strong lean on Zofran, Reglan, Phenegran, Compazine and more.  Benzodiazepines like valium can also be prescribed to those with vestibular migraine as a rescue drug to kick out dizziness and relieve nausea. There is a lot of talk in vestibular groups that taking these medications will prevent your brain from compensating for daily dizziness, but one of the leading vestibular migraine doctors in the U.S., Doctor Hain, says he hasn’t seen a single patient fail to compensate when using benzos low dose and short term. Not all benzos are recommended though. Check out this article for more information. Benzos should be used short term to prevent addiction issues. If you haven’t already, plan to discuss a nausea rescue plan with your doctor during your next visit. 

13. CBD

CBD may help reduce that crummy nauseous feeling.  Join the Facebook group Migraine Buds Chat to learn more about the benefits of CBD on migraine and nausea.

14. Vomit

I know gross right, but if you are really feeling the urge, don’t fight or try to suppress it because there’s really only one solution.  Sometimes, it’s the only way to make the symptom go away completely.  Just be sure to replenish your fluids if you’ve been physically sick.  This is a perfect time to try that celery juice everyone raves about because it’s so hydrating.  It’s literally a tall drink of water (94%) with natural electrolytes that help our bodies maintain a balance of fluids.

15. Know When to See Your Doctor

When you have nausea along with your attack it can be difficult to take medication to abort it if that medicine needs to be swallowed.  Ask your doctor about this concern. Several medications are available in injectable, nasal spray, eyedrops (Timolol) and suppository forms for use when you can’t keep anything down. Keep in mind that most nausea is short lived and not serious.  Once your head pain and/or dizziness eases, your nausea should begin to ease as well. If your nausea is accompanied by new symptoms, lasts more than two days or results in dehydration.  Contact your doctor immediately. 

It’s important to remember that these are tips and tricks for managing nausea are personal strategies that have been discussed by our members of Migraine Strong.  Always talk with your doctor before trying any medical treatment or supplement. 

Nausea is a frequent companion to migraine. Read through this list of 15 tips to learn how to treat nausea before it gets out of control. #migraine #chronicillness

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I was diagnosed with Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and my neurotologist added a Ménière’s Disease mild diagnosis in 2018. I went from being housebound for months to working full time and living an active full life by following the Migraine Strong treatment pie. Preventive medications, the Heal Your Headache Diet and supplements do a lot of the heavy lifting in relieving my symptoms. You can also find me over on The Dizzy Cook blog baking yummy head safe goodies on a guest post each month.

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