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Wellness > Health

Surviving Chronic Migraines: Tips and Tricks

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Lasell chapter.

As someone who suffers from chronic migraines, I can confirm that they are no fun and not just a simple “headache.” Starting this year with this condition was one of many reasons for being anxious about going off to college, even though I’ve been handling migraines for over two years. Migraines can be debilitating, so let’s start with the individual symptoms and what can be done to relieve those: 

Some migraines have what is called; ‘prodrome’, where subtle changes days in advance allow someone insight to an oncoming migraine. 

These changes may consist of: 

  • Constipation
  • Food cravings
  • Neck and back stiffness
  • Increased urination
  • Frequent yawning
  • Mood changes – unstable moods, depression, euphoria, and/or irritability

Prior to the onset of a migraine, many sufferers experience an aura which may differ between people. Personally, I have a kind of ‘tiredness’ in my eyes and feel exhausted beforehand.

Examples of auras can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Visual phenomena – seeing blobs, bright spots, or flashes of light
  • Subtle temporary vision loss – blurriness 
  • Pins and needles sensations 
  • Weakness or numbness in parts of the body
  • Difficulty speaking – often mumbling or mixing up words

Now onto the actual migraine itself. Migraines typically last anywhere from 4 hours to over 2 days when untreated

Symptoms of a migraine include but aren’t limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Pain behind the eyes, forehead, and neck
  • Pain occurring either on one side or both sides of the head
  • Throbbing or stabbing pain
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and movement
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Migraines can be caused by many factors, so it’s best to keep a diary or log of your: diet, sleep schedule, and stressors (work, school, etc). Understanding what happens or what is done prior to a migraine is good for figuring out what specifically causes said migraine. 

Other Migraine triggers can be:

  • Scoliosis
  • Eye issues – glasses, contacts, trouble seeing, etc
  • Weather changes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sensory stimuli – ex. Flashing lights or loud music
  • Genetics

Now knowing exactly what a migraine is and its symptoms, medication options can be offered. My favorite over-the-counter (OTC) med is Excedrin, and either Excedrin Extra Strength or Excedrin Migraine works the best. Oftentimes, medication needs to be taken within 2 hours of the migraine kicking in or it becomes harder to relieve the pain.

Over the counter medications that can help symptoms are:

  • Pain relievers
    • Aspirin
    • Ibuprofen
    • Motrin
    • Excedrin
    • Dramamine

Prescription medications that can help symptoms are:

  • Pain relievers
    • Zofran
    • Rizatriptan
    • Sumatriptan
    • Lasmiditan
    • Ubrogepant
    • Opioid medications
  • Preventatives
    • Propranolol
    • Metoprolol
    • Botox injections
    • Anti-seizure drugs
    • Some antidepressants

If medication isn’t your forté, I recommend more natural ways for relieving or preventing migraines like… 

  • If you’re stressed out, taking a break and relaxing may help. Listening to music, online shopping, watching a show, or meditating can help manage stress.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation, massage therapy, and acupuncture may also help treat migraines on a natural level. 
  • Diet modification can help you to find out when you had a migraine and what may have caused it so you can do the exact opposite. For example, if every time you had a migraine and you noticed you had a Red Bull beforehand, try not drinking Red Bull anymore. 

There really isn’t any one way to get rid of migraines (at least, not forever), but certain things can be done to help relieve pain that I highly recommend. My guide to surviving chronic migraines is finding time for yourself to relax and enjoy things. For me, it’s listening to music and doing art, as well as finding what works for you (Excedrin is my best friend) and doing just that.

She/they LGBTQ+ Lasell '26 Graphic Design Major