When I Can’t Take Abortive Migraine Medication

Image by Seksak Kerdkanno from Pixabay

I have chronic migraines. You are defined as having chronic migraines when you have more than 14 migraines a month, I have more than 20. In the last month I’ve had 2 migraine free days. Due to the risk of Medication Overuse Headaches (you can read more about MOH here), and the possibility of some nasty side effects, you are only allowed to take abortive medications twice a week or a maximum of 10 per month. Abortive (also referred to as acute or rescue) medications are medications you take at the time of the migraine to stop it, they are best used at the first signs of a migraine. Abortive medications are analgesics (such as NSAIDS, Excedrin Migraine…), triptans, ergotamines, and on rare occasions opioids.

This week has been a rough one, I’ve had some intense migraines and I’d already used my abortive medications for the week. What’s a girl to do?

Suffer? Yeah, maybe, but I have found a few things that do help a little and sometimes they even get me back to my smiling self. 🙂 Like most migraine treatments these work best if you use them early, when the pain gets really bad, it takes much more to get it under control. (so it’s really hard when you wake up with a whopper) Here’s a little list of things I’ve been using that seem to help me, just keep in mind that everyone is different these might not work for you, or, who knows, they might work better for you than they do for me.

  • caffeine – one of the first things I reach for now is caffeine. I don’t use a lot, but I am using more than I used to. I always keep my consumption under 200mg a day (going over can cause rebound headaches so you have to be careful about this treatment), but when I have a migraine a little jolt of caffeine can help. I normally take it in conjunction with other things. (my usual dosage is about 41 mg in a 16oz drink)
  • ginger – Ginger has been shown to help stop a migraine. There have been a few studies showing how ginger helps with migraines, the one that impressed me the most was one that was held in an ER, the patients that came in with migraines were either given an NSAID with ginger or the NSAID alone and the group that were given ginger were more likely to find relief across the board. There is also a study that showed that ginger was as effective as sumatriptan (Imatrex) for some people. I’m not one of those people, but I do think it helps. So I take 500 mg of ginger now at the first sign of a migraine. Here are some links to studies about ginger Ginger and migraine treatment, Ginger efficacy compared to sumatriptan, Feverfew and ginger for migraine.
  • I decided to try a homeopathic remedy, I honestly didn’t think it would do anything, but it didn’t cost much so I thought I’d give it a go. Much to my surprise, it helps. It’s not a miracle, it rarely takes it all away, but it often lessens it enough that I can function. (I think it’s worth noting that I’ve never taken this without either caffeine or ginger) It’s called Hyland’s Migraine Headache Relief. It contains Glonoinum, Belladonna, Gelsemium, Nux Vomica, Iris Versiolor, and Sanguinaria Canadensis. I found it at Sprouts, but when I did an online search it looks like you can find it all over. The dosage is 1 or 2 tablets every 4 hours. You let them dissolve on your tongue, I like this a lot. If I happen to not have water I can still take this, and it doesn’t taste nasty. I always start with 2, and in 4 hours if I need more I then decide if I need 1 or 2 at that dose. I have noticed no side effects from this so far. I bought this product with my own money, I am not receiving anything from the company, they know nothing of me, this is not an official review or anything like that.) undefined
  • medical marijuana – I’m going to write a post about this soon, probably the next post I put out, but I thought I’d put a little blurb here that I do use medical marijuana to help with my migraines. It is not a miracle, but it does help. However, it is a lot of trial and error to find what works for you.
  • ice or heat – my head is variable, it sometimes feels relief from an ice pack, sometimes from heat, so I try both. Sometimes I’m afraid to try either for fear of making it worse. But normally I’ll try ice if my pain is mainly on the top of my head, if my neck is the main culprit I’ll use heat, if my forehead is where the pain originates I kind of leave it. I have an IceKap, I have found it works well when my head wants ice, but it’s heavy and my neck doesn’t like that so I don’t use it much. However, if you are someone who needs ice for your migraine, this cap is great for getting your head cold and it stays in place. It presses on my glasses though, I don’t like that, I don’t like to take my glasses off when I have a migraine because of the vertigo. (again, I bought the IceKap, no one knows I’m saying anything about it. I’m not getting anything.)
  • Epsom Salt Bath – I can’t do this all the time because of vertigo and other times when I’m hurting too much I just can’t get in the tub, but when I have a moderate headache a nice soak in a tub with Epsom Salts can really help. Add the scent of lavender or mint and it can really be relaxing, and I normally hate scents, but I really liked the lavender Epsom salts I tried recently. It wasn’t a fake smell, or too over powering. It was very relaxing. That’s a good thing.
  • That’s about it from me, other people really like essential oils, but for the most part scents trigger migraines for me, none have relieved them. I do find peppermint a little helpful sometimes, but other times it makes me nauseous, so I don’t like to risk it. Lemon is about the only smell that never makes me sick. Oh…Sometimes if I eat something spicy it will lessen the pain in my head for little while, but it doesn’t last. If you can trigger an ice cream headache, it’s supposed to stop a migraine, but dang! That’s something I don’t really want to try. Oh who am I kidding, I have tried, you know it’s hard to trigger one of those when you are trying to do it. I still can’t tell you if it works, and when I think about it I really don’t want to cause myself that much pain.
  • Note that I didn’t include things like massage, acupuncture…. because I consider those more preventative and today I’m focusing on abortive treatments. Also I’m focusing on things I can do for myself without help.

How do you treat your migraines when you can’t take your meds,?

Did I share anything that you found interesting?

How has your week been? I’m thrilled to say today I don’t have a migraine! The exact opposite of every other day this week. Yay.

May we all have a pleasant weekend. We are finally getting the rest of our furniture this weekend. Woot, Woot!

8 thoughts on “When I Can’t Take Abortive Migraine Medication

  1. I love these ideas. I don’t suffer from migraines, although I do get aura-like symptoms when really stressed. I might try some of these when I next have a headache (yes, I know migraines are worse). For me, most essential oils can trigger headaches too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say migraines are different, not “worse” (ah how can I say that!) I say that because there are so many different symptoms that you can get with a migraine that have nothing to do with the pain, sometimes you can have a migraine without pain (crazy but true). So when you say it’s worse, I’m sure you are thinking pain wise, and yes, normally it is, but sometimes not. It’s all the other symptoms that make up migraine that make it a whole different thing.
      If you are getting an aura like symptom, are you sure you aren’t having migraines?
      The Epsom salt bath is great for regular headaches. And a little caffeine can sometimes help. If it’s a tension headache heat is often more helpful than ice, but try both and see what helps.
      I’m glad you found this useful.
      I hope you get to make soap soon.
      I read your latest posts in my email so I didn’t get a chance to comment, but soap making sounds so cool.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks a bunch for your response. I must’ve said different indeed. That’s what I meant, but it was like 3AM when I commented on your post and I must’ve been tired.

        I’m not sure the symptoms I experience are actually an aura. I get flashes of light, but these could also be retinal floaters and I’m not even sure what a migraine aura is supposed to look like. It’s complicated by the fact that I’m blind (with some light perception).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi Astrid, that would complicate things indeed. Migraine aura can look different for different people, but I don’t know how it would look to someone who has limited sight. 🤷‍♀️ Interesting.
          That’s about what time it was last night when I commented on your blog. We stay up way too late. 😉
          Hope today was a pleasant one.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I feel more informed and think these ideas apply to many kinds of ways for dealing with many challenges. Ginger is definitely something i forget about. It is such a great natural help. Yay for furniture!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love ginger. Do you also drink ginger tea using ginger root? We use it during cold and flu season. I get taking pills with a consistent amount of mg. Was wondering if you also drink it to keep some ginger in the system, so to speak, or do you think it wouldn’t make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do drink ginger tea sometimes, but not often, for 2 reasons, mainly because I’m lazy and I’m not a big hot drink lover. It’s okay, but it’s just not something I crave. It would probably help, and if I have fresh lemons I’m more likely to drink it. Love lemons. 😋

      Like

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