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How do I Deal with Migraine Nausea?

By Amanda Dean
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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The wrenching headache pain of a migraine is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The best way that you can deal with migraine nausea is to treat both the migraine and the upset stomach. This can be challenging because nausea can make it difficult to tolerate oral medication. You can turn to home remedies, over-the-counter drugs or prescription medications to treat your nausea.

Preventative measures such as avoiding triggers or prophylactic treatment can mean dealing with migraine nausea less frequently. Migraine triggers vary among sufferers. Some people might be afflicted with a migraine in stressful conditions or when their sleep is disrupted. Alcohol, foods and additives can be triggers for migraines. In order to prevent migraines with nausea, you can track your food intake and other situational factors in a journal, and after a pattern emerges, you can try to avoid the identified triggers.

The best way to cope with migraine nausea is to treat it early on. Those who suffer migraines accompanied by nausea generally can sense an onset. If this is true for you, you should spring immediately into action when you sense an onset, in order to minimize the severity of symptoms.

Adding peppermint oil or ginger to tepid water might help you reduce the experience of nausea. Fruit juices also are a good choice for quelling migraine-related nausea. Carbonated beverages can further upset the stomach and should be avoided. Make sure that you are well hydrated as soon as you are aware of an oncoming migraine event. As pain and nausea increase, it might become more difficult for you to ingest food and water, but is very important, because nausea and vomiting increase the risk of dehydration.

Bland and fiber-rich foods can help to decrease the severity of migraine nausea. Ingesting a piece of toast or a banana can help to calm the stomach and can provide a buffer for pain-relieving medications. Avoid oily or spicy foods during a migraine event, because they can further upset the stomach. Some foods, including cumin seeds and white rice, serve as home remedies for general nausea. Even after buffering the stomach with food, vomiting still might occur, but it will be less painful if your stomach has some contents to expel.

Some relaxation activities might help you deal with migraine nausea. A warm bath with lavender or peppermint oil can soothe your stomach. Rest and relaxation in a quiet, dim room can combat nausea as well as other migraine symptoms. Movement, especially of the head, can cause dizziness and increase stomach upset, so stillness or a nap can help to minimize your nausea.

Combating the migraine with pain relieving medications eventually will also treat migraine nausea. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen are often used to treat headaches but can further upset an already nauseous stomach. Over-the-counter nausea medications can also be helpful in dealing with migraine nausea or tolerating medications. Bismuth subsalicylate and dimenhydrinate are available without a prescription.

In cases of severe or frequent migraine nausea, you should seek medical help from your doctors. A physician may prescribe anti-nausea medications such as chlormromazine, promethazine or metoclopramide for chronic migraine nausea. In some cases, stomach upset is so severe that sufferers expel medications soon after intake. When this occurs, treatment is may be given in intravenous or suppository form. These medications are associated with serious gastrointestinal and motor function side effects and usually are reserved for use when cases of migraine nausea cause serious disruption or debility.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Spotiche5 — On Mar 19, 2014

I have found that a good way to stay hydrated and calm the nausea that occurs with a migraine headache is to eat ice chips, flavored ice pops, or even gelatin.

By Ocelot60 — On Mar 18, 2014

I am glad to see that this article points out that some foods aggravate migraine nausea. When I get these severe headaches, I get very nauseous if I eat foods that contain spices, especially garlic. I always wondered if there was a connection.

Once I determined that these foods seemed to make me sick when I was experiencing a migraine, I began avoiding them as soon as I could tell that a headache was coming. Now I drink ginger ale because it helps keep my stomach calm, and eat very lightly until the migraine has passed.

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