Treating and Coping With Nausea From A Migraine

Nausea Is an Unpleasant Symptom of Migraines
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There's no doubt about it – the pain associated with a migraine can be debilitating. And for many migraine sufferers, nausea that accompanies that pain can be equally bothersome.

Though scientists are not exactly sure why so many migraines are accompanied by stomach problems, it's pretty clear that those queasy symptoms can wreak havoc on your life if you don't take steps to control them.

Why Am I Experiencing Nausea With My Migraines?

While trying to understand the reason why your migraine headaches are accompanied by stomach problems is a logical coping strategy, the unfortunate truth is that we just don't know enough about what causes migraine-related nausea to give a clear answer.

The general belief is that migraines occur when nerves near the base of our brain signal the blood vessels on the surface of the brain to swell. Some studies have shown that the change in estrogen levels contribute to those brain signals, which might explain why more women than men suffer from migraines.

Other studies have shown that serotonin (a chemical in the brain that has been linked to motion sickness) may also play a role and could explain why a great percentage of migraine sufferers also experience seasickness.

Lastly, dysfunction in the periaqueductal gray area of the fourth ventricle (within the brain) has been suggested as a potential cause of nausea and vomiting in people with migraines.

Short-Term Coping Strategies for Migraines With Nausea

The good news is that there are several different treatment options and coping strategies that can help you deal with migraine-related nausea.

When you're dealing with a bout of nausea or feel a spell coming on, you'll probably want quick symptom relief. Short-term solutions include:

  • Loosening your clothes and taking deep slow breaths
  • Applying a warm wet cloth to your head and neck (cold water could make a migraine worse)
  • Opening a window or stepping outside to get fresh air
  • Eating small quantities of bland foods and avoiding foods with strong odors
  • Without drinking too much at once, staying hydrated by sipping water, tea or clear broth

After managing your acute symptoms, developing long-term coping strategies are critical.

Long-Term Coping Strategies for Migraines With Nausea

Your neurologist may put you on a plan that includes migraine trigger avoidance. Through a process of trial-and-error, you and she may be able to identify environmental factors that include diet issues, physical challenges, psychological problems and a host of other stimuli that may trigger your migraine. For example, you may be asked to keep a log that helps to identify certain triggers:

  • Do your symptoms come on after you eat a specific kind of food?
  • Are your symptoms appearing after you exert yourself during a physical activity?
  • Was there a specific life event or emotional stressor that coincided with your symptoms?

During subsequent visits, your neurologist may help you decide on ways you can modify some of the symptom triggers that are specific to your lifestyle.

Change Your Lifestyle

There are also some general lifestyle changes that you can employ to combat the migraines that accompany nausea. For example, taking steps to reduce your stress levels can help reduce the frequency of an attack.

In addition, changing your habits can also make a difference – quit smoking, exercise daily, eat a healthy diet and limit your intake of some of the substances that commonly trigger migraines such as chocolate, cheese, and alcohol.

Try Anti-Nausea Medication

Treating a migraine usually means that the nausea symptoms associated with it will also be treated. However, in some instances your doctor may suggest medications with a stronger anti-nausea profile, thereby putting more focus on your stomach problems. Popular medication choices include Compazine (prochlorperazine) and Reglan (metoclopramide).

Because your nausea may mean that you're having trouble keeping things down, taking a standard pill may not be the best option for you. Fortunately, most of these drugs are available in various forms, including easily dissolvable pills, syrups, suppositories, and injections. Work with your doctor to find the best option for you.

Explore Alternative Therapies

Though medical management has been effective for lots of migraine sufferers, alternative therapies might also prove beneficial. Some patients extol the power of ginger in helping to reduce nausea. You might try peeling a raw slice from a ginger root, sucking on a piece of ginger candy, or making a cup of ginger tea. Other suggestions include consuming a little sugar or sipping on an energy drink.

Keep in mind that while many vitamin and supplement providers make claims to treat migraine-induced nausea, not all commercially available treatments are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, while some patients in states that have legalized medical marijuana report nausea relief from cannabis consumption, consuming an illicit substance in other states is strictly prohibited.

Because there are important safety concerns to consider when trying different therapies, it's critical to check with your doctor before actually trying an alternative treatment.

Let It Out

Allowing yourself to vomit can provide some relief during a nauseous episode. Many patients report feeling drastically better after purging.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, it's key that you maintain regular contact with a neurologist regarding your migraines and any associated nausea. She will be able to work with you to develop and maintain a comprehensive treatment plan that can help you manage your condition.

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Article Sources
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