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How do you get rid of a migraine fast?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Oct 12, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

To help get rid of a migraine as soon as possible:

  • Treat your migraine immediately at the first signs.
  • Keep over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription migraine medications with you at all times.
  • If noise and light bother you, find a quiet, dark place to rest.
  • Drink water or a caffeinated beverage if that helps you.
  • Use hot or cold packs on your head or neck.
  • Remove hats or ponytail holders to decrease pressure on your scalp.

If you are pregnant and you have questions about what medicines are safe, consult your health care provider.

Early signs of a migraine

Knowing the early signs can help you treat a migraine quickly. These signs can occur a few days or hours before the migraine starts:

  • Feeling depressed or irritable
  • Difficulty concentrating, reading or speaking
  • Craving certain foods
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Yawning
  • Trouble sleeping, feeling tired or having muscle pain
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Feeling extra sensitive to lights and sounds

Another warning sign of migraine is aura. Changes in vision, touch or speech can occur. These include:

  • Seeing stars or spots, or experiencing a brief loss of vision
  • Numbness or tingling throughout the body
  • Slurred speech or not able to say the correct words

Migraine prevention

There are also ways to help prevent migraines:

  • Take preventive medications prescribed by your doctor.
  • Keep a headache diary and learn your triggers. Write down what foods or drinks you had when you got a migraine. Sometimes, changes in caffeine intake can lead to a migraine. Were you tired or possibly dehydrated? Some people feel anxious and irritable or have certain food cravings right before getting a migraine. Many times, changes in weather can lead to a migraine.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly.
  • Magnesium has also been shown to help prevent migraines. Your doctor can help you decide if daily magnesium is right for you.

Medications for migraines

Medications for migraine are available to help treat and prevent attacks. It’s important not to overuse these OTC medicines. Taking them too frequently can lead to a condition called rebound headache.

OTC medicines for migraine include:

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Aleve (naproxen)
  • Excedrin (acetaminophen-aspirin-caffeine)

Prescription medicines used to treat migraine include:

  • The Triptans, such as:
    • Imitrex (sumatriptan)
    • Maxalt (rizatriptan)
    • Amerge (naratriptan)
    • Frova (frovatriptan)
    • Relpax (eletriptan)
    • Zomig (zolmitriptan)
  • Ergot-derivative prescription drugs (such as Cafergot and Migranal)
  • Ubrelvy (ubrogepant), a small molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist (gepant)

Prescription medicines used to help treat and prevent migraines include:

  • Nurtec ODT (rimegepant sulfate), a gepant

Prescription medicines used to help prevent migraines include:

  • High blood pressure medicines such as:
    • Tenormin (atenolol)
    • Toprol (metoprolol)
    • Corgard (nadolol)
    • Inderal (propranolol)
    • Cardizem (diltiazem)
    • Calan (verapamil)
  • Anti-seizure medicines such as:
    • Topamax (topiramate)
    • Depakote (divalproex)
  • Antidepressants such as:
    • Elavil (amitriptyline)
    • Pamelor (nortriptyline)
    • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
    • Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA)
  • Monoclonal antibody CGRP inhibitors such as:
  • Calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonist such as:
References
  1. American Migraine Foundation. Acute Migraine: Treating Early. April 5, 2009. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/acute-migraine-treating-early/. [Accessed September 27, 2021].
  2. National Headache Foundation. Your Migraine, Your Symptoms: What You Need to Know. September 15, 2015. Available at: https://headaches.org/wp-content/themes/bridge-child_nhf/documents/161024_LOT-A_MigraineSymptoms.pdf. [Accessed September 27, 2021].
  3. Krymchantowski, AV. Headaches Due to External Compression. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2010;14, 321–324. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-010-0122-x.
  4. American Migraine Foundation. Magnesium for Migraine Prevention. April 1, 2021. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/magnesium-migraine/. [Accessed September 25, 2021].
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medicine and Pregnancy. May 31, 2019. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/free-publications-women/medicine-and-pregnancy. [Accessed September 25, 2021].
  6. American Migraine Foundation. The Timeline of a Migraine Attack. January 18, 2018. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/timeline-migraine-attack/. [Accessed September 28, 2021].
  7. American Migraine Foundation. Understanding Migraine with Aura. July 6, 2017. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/understanding-migraine-aura/. [Accessed September 27, 2021].
  8. American Family Physician. Rebound Headaches. December 15, 2004. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/1215/p2313.html. [Accessed September 27, 2021].
  9. American Migraine Foundation. Over-the-Counter Medications vs. Prescription Medications. September 13, 2018. Available at: https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/over-the-counter-medications-vs-prescription-medications/. [Accessed September 25, 2021].

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