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Migraine Headache


A migraine is a severe headache. The pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. A migraine can last a few hours up to several days. The exact cause of migraines is not known.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a headache that seems different or much worse than your usual migraine headache.
  • You have a severe headache with a fever or a stiff neck.
  • You have new problems with speech, vision, balance, or movement.
  • You feel like you are going to faint, you become confused, or you have a seizure.

Contact your healthcare provider or neurologist if:

  • Your migraines interfere with your daily activities.
  • Your medicines or treatments stop working.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Take medicine as soon as you feel a migraine begin.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Migraine medicines are used to help prevent a migraine or stop it once it starts.
  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting. This medicine can also help relieve pain.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Rest in a dark, quiet room. This will help decrease your pain. Sleep may also help relieve the pain.
  • Apply ice to decrease pain. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your head where it hurts for 15 to 20 minutes every hour.
  • Apply heat to decrease pain and muscle spasms. Use a small towel dampened with warm water or a heating pad, or sit in a warm bath. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours. You may alternate heat and ice.
  • Keep a migraine record. Write down when your migraines start and stop. Include your symptoms and what you were doing when a migraine began. Record what you ate or drank for 24 hours before the migraine started. Keep track of what you did to treat your migraine and if it worked.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or neurologist as directed:

Bring your migraine record with you when you see your healthcare provider. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent another migraine:

  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can trigger a migraine and also cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol can trigger a migraine. It can also interfere with the medicines used to treat your migraine.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise may help prevent migraines. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Manage stress. Stress may trigger a migraine. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
  • Create a sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Eat regular meals. Include healthy foods such as include fruit, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. Do not have foods or drinks that trigger your migraines.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Migraine Headache (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference