Postdrome Migraine: How to Cure a Migraine Hangover

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A migraine isn't just any headache. It consists of several stages, including the prodrome (or pre-migraine phase), an aura, the migraine itself, and then a postdrome (or post-migraine phase). The postdrome phase is not often discussed when considering the effects of migraines. However, it can be as debilitating as the migraine itself. Many people with migraines describe this final phase of a migraine as being similar to a hangover after drinking too much alcohol.

This article will explore the symptoms, management, and prevention of the postdrome phase of a migraine.

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Symptoms

A "migraine hangover," or postdrome migraine stage, is what follows a migraine. This phase usually lasts 24–48 hours. For some, this phase can be more debilitating than the migraine itself.

Some of the symptoms of a postdrome migraine include:

  • Fatigue
  • Head pain
  • Cognitive issues
  • Dehydration
  • Fogginess
  • Mood changes

A migraine hangover can even affect other areas of the body besides the head. It can cause abdominal issues, aches throughout the body, and sensitivity to touch. A 2018 study showed that 81% of those with migraines had at least one non-headache postdrome symptom.

In some cases, postdrome symptoms can last for days after a migraine ends.

Prodrome vs. Postdrome

Prodrome is the few hours to days that lead up to a migraine. Symptoms of prodrome include irritability, depression, yawning, light sensitivity, fatigue, or nausea.

Postdrome is the 24- to 48-hour period that follows a migraine. Symptoms of postdrome can mimic those experienced during the prodrome phase. However, they may also include dehydration, body aches, abdominal issues, and other debilitating symptoms.

Treatment and Prevention

Just as every person who suffers from migraines will have different symptoms, treatment and prevention methods also will vary by individual. There are various prevention methods to mitigate symptoms of postdrome. Over time, you will learn what your body responds to.

Remember that it may not be possible to prevent postdrome.

The American Migraine Foundation recommends the following tips to minimize the discomfort that follows your migraine:

  • Drink plenty of water during and after the acute migraine phase.
  • Try calming activities, such as yoga or meditation.
  • Avoid stimulating activities and bright lights.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Avoid looking at electronic devices or screens.

There are medications that treat and prevent migraines. However, one study found that for most people who suffer from postdrome, medications taken during a migraine do not affect duration of the postdrome phase.

If you get frequent migraines and experience migraine postdrome, talk to a healthcare professional about treatment options.

Management

Preventing a migraine from happening in the first place is the best way to manage migraine postdrome. It may not be possible to predict a migraine coming on, but you can experiment with prevention methods and make efforts to minimize postdrome symptoms.

Consider keeping a migraine diary to document the events and symptoms surrounding each phase of your migraine. Over time you may be able to identify triggers and patterns that can help you manage migraine onset and symptoms.

Some people find that extra sleep helps them manage migraine hangovers. Others may find that certain foods or activities trigger or elongate symptoms. Avoiding those triggers may help manage hangovers.

You can help manage your migraines and postdrome symptoms by working with a healthcare professional or a migraine specialist, such as a neurologist, to discuss medication options and create a treatment plan targeted to your specific symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

Living with migraines can be debilitating and impact your overall quality of life. Talk to a healthcare professional about treatment options that may help you. Remember that recovering from migraines can take time. But with medical assistance and tracking, it is possible to pinpoint solutions that may help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long will postdrome usually last?

    The postdrome phase usually lasts 24–48 hours. However, every person is different and may experience longer or shorter postdrome phases.

  • What should you do if postdrome lasts longer than a couple days?

    Studies show that postdrome usually lasts one or two days. However, some patients may experience symptoms for longer. If you suffer from lengthy migraine hangovers, you should speak with your physician about options that are right for you.

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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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