Nausea From a Migraine

How to manage this common symptom

Between 20 percent and 50 percent of people who have recurrent migraines have nausea and/or vomiting with some or all of their migraine episodes. Adults generally experience nausea along with more severe migraines, and nausea is reported as one of the most distressing aspects of having a migraine. Childhood migraines, on the other hand, may involve only nausea and vomiting (no headaches or other migraine symptoms) and are more often characterized by these symptoms than adult migraines.

There are ways to manage this, but treatment can be a challenge because nausea can make it difficult to swallow the very medications that can help improve it. It can also make you hesitant to take any medications recommended for the treatment of migraine itself, only compouning matters.

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

There are some simple things you can do on your own that may help your migraine-related nausea. Using several of these suggestions together may make you feel a bit better:

  • 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
  • Avoid foods with strong tastes and odors
  • Stay hydrated by sipping water, unsweetened tea, or clear broth

Allowing yourself to vomit can also provide relief during an episode of nausea, especially if these episodes are not frequent.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

There are several effective over-the-counter therapies for nausea, including common medications used for the treatment of motion sickness, such as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), Bonine (meclizine), and Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Such drugs are often also effective in managing some of the other symptoms of migraines, such as dizziness.

Motion sickness medications are generally more effective for migraine-related nausea than over-the-counter treatments typically used gastrointestinal issues. That said, you might also feel relief with Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), Imodium (loperamide), or similar medications.

Prescriptions

If you have severe nausea with your migraines, your doctor may suggest a prescription-strength anti-nausea medication. Effective options include Compazine (prochlorperazine) and Reglan (metoclopramide). These medications are available in various forms, including dissolvable pills, syrups, suppositories, and injections.

In fact, sometimes anti-nausea prescriptions are used for the treatment of migraine headaches even when nausea is not a prominent symptom.

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

Several migraine medications, including Imitrex (sumatriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), and Migranal (dihydroergotamine), are available in other forms (inhalable, injectable, suppositories) which can be more tolerable for you if you are severely nauseated.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

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

Ginger

Ginger is the most common natural option used in the treatment of nausea. You might try peeling a raw slice from a ginger root, sucking on a piece of ginger candy, making a cup of ginger tea, or drinking cold ginger ale.

Acupressure

Acupressure is a method of Chinese medicine that uses stimulation of pressure points for relief of health problems. There is evidence that stimulation of acupressure PC6, which is located on the forearm, can decrease nausea associated with migraines. You can use this method by wearing a Seaband wristband during a migraine/nausea attack.

Aromatherapy

A popular method that involves inhaling concentrated oils, aromatherapy is safe, but it has not been scientifically proven to relieve migraine-associated nausea. Nevertheless, many people report benefits, and if you experience symptom relief, then this may be a good option for you. Popular options for this purpose 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, though there have not been proven benefits for migraines. While cannabis use for a variety of health issues has grown, there are considerations worth noting. Among them, consuming it in states where it is prohibited can result in legal consequences.

Because there are important safety concerns to consider when trying different therapies, check with your doctor before trying any alternative treatment for your migraine-related nausea.

A Word From Verywell

Note that another condition, cyclic vomiting syndrome, is characterized predominantly by vomiting and heightened sensitivity to odors, and only rarely with other symptoms, such as headaches or sensitivity to bright lights.

Researchers believe that cyclic vomiting syndrome may be similar to migraines in terms of the physiological processes in the brain, or that it may be a type of migraine. This condition often improves with the treatments that are typically used for migraine headaches.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources