Nausea From a Migraine

How to manage this common symptom

Between 20% and 50% of people with migraines also have nausea and vomiting with some or all of their episodes. Adults usually have nausea with more severe migraines. For many adults with migraines, nausea is one of the most distressing symptoms.

Childhood migraines, on the other hand, may involve only nausea and vomiting. In fact, children often do not have headaches or other migraine symptoms.

Migraine-related nausea and vomiting can be managed. Treatment can be a challenge because nausea can make it hard to swallow medication. If you're nauseous, you may also be hesitant to swallow headache medications, which can make matters even worse.

This article discusses nausea and vomiting as a feature of migraines. It also offers suggestions on how to get relief.

home remedies for migraine-induced nausea
Verywell / Cindy Chung 

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

There are some simple things you can do on your own that may help your migraine-related nausea.

  • Loosen your clothes, especially around your stomach
  • Take deep, slow breaths
  • Apply an ice pack to your head or neck
  • Open a window or step outside to get fresh air
  • Eat a small amount of bland food, like saltines
  • Avoid foods with strong tastes and odors
  • Stay hydrated by sipping water, unsweetened tea, or clear broth

It can also help to just let yourself vomit. This can provide relief from the uncomfortable sensation of nausea.

Over-the-Counter Therapies

Over-the-counter (OTC) therapies can help ease nausea.

These include drugs that are used for treating motion sickness, such as:

These drugs can also help other migraine symptoms, like dizziness.

Motion sickness drugs usually work better for migraine-related nausea than OTC treatments typically used for stomach issues.

That said, you could also try:

Prescription Medication

If you have severe nausea with your migraines, your doctor may suggest a prescription-strength drug.

Some options include:

These medications help with nausea and are available in various forms, including:

  • Dissolvable pills
  • Syrups
  • Suppositories
  • Injections

Sometimes anti-nausea prescriptions are used to treat migraines even when nausea is not a major symptom.

When you have nausea, it can be a challenge to take medication by mouth. Strategize the best way to take your migraine medications. You are the only one who can decide whether you are more likely to keep your medications down with food, with drink, or without anything.

Several migraine medications like Imitrex (sumatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), and Migranal (dihydroergotamine) are available in other forms, such as:

  • Inhalable
  • Injectable
  • Suppositories

If you're severely nauseated, this can make them easier to take.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Alternative therapies can also be beneficial for migraine symptoms, including nausea.

Ginger

Ginger is a common natural treatment for nausea.

There are a few different ways to take it:

  • Eat a raw slice from a ginger root
  • Suck on a piece of ginger candy
  • Make a cup of ginger tea
  • Drink a cold ginger ale

Acupressure

Acupressure is an alternative medicine practice that comes from Chinese medicine. It involves the use of pressure points to relieve health problems. There is evidence that stimulating acupressure point PC6 on the forearm can decrease migraine-related nausea.

To find this point, position your arm with the palm facing you. Place three fingers horizontally at the base of your palm. Just below your fingers, feel for the two tendons in the center of your forearm. The PC6 pressure point is in the middle of those two tendons.

A Sea-Band is a wristband that puts continuous pressure on this acupressure point. Try using one on each wrist to help relieve nausea during a migraine attack.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves inhaling concentrated essential oils. It is generally considered safe, but studies supporting its effectiveness are limited. So far, it has not been scientifically proven to relieve migraine-associated nausea. Still, some people do find it helpful.

Popular oils used for migraine-related nausea include lavender oil and eucalyptus oil.

Cannabis

Medical marijuana has been used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in states where it is legal. So far the data is not clear regarding its effect on migraine-associated nausea. While more people are using cannabis for a variety of health issues, make sure you know the laws in your area. There may be legal consequences of using cannabis in states where it is prohibited.

Alternative therapies pose different safety concerns. Always ask your doctor before trying any alternative treatment for your migraine-related nausea.

Summary

Many people with migraines also experience nausea during an attack. Fortunately, there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help with this distressing symptom.

Simple home remedies like staying hydrated and applying ice can be helpful, too. Some people also get relief from alternative medicine therapies like acupressure or aromatherapy.

A Word From Verywell

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is another condition characterized by vomiting and heightened sensitivity to odors. It is only rarely associated with other symptoms, like headaches or sensitivity to bright lights.

Researchers think cyclic vomiting syndrome may be similar to migraines in terms of what's happening in the brain. Some think it may even be a type of migraine. This condition often improves with treatments typically used for migraine headaches.

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