Health & Wellness Articles

How to Stop a Migraine in Its Tracks

Triggers & Treatments for Migraine Pain


With a little time spent analyzing your triggers, organizing a headache diary and working with your healthcare provider, you may find that migraines soon lose their painful punch.
A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. "Migraine," accessed March 20, 2013.

Godman, Heidi. "Migraines: Stop Them Before They Start," accessed March 20, 2013.

Hougaard, Anders, MD et al. "Provocation of Migraine with Aura Using Natural Trigger Factors." Neurology (2013). Accessed March 20, 2013. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31827f0f10

Mayo Clinic. "Migraine," accessed March 20, 2013.

University Health Services at University of California, Berkeley. "Migraine Triggers," (PDF) accessed March 20, 2013.

University of Illinois McKinley Health Center. "Migraine Headache," accessed March 20, 2013.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Women's Health. "Migraine Fact Sheet," accessed March 20, 2013.
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About The Author

Robin Donovan Robin Donovan
Robin Donovan is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer and magazine journalist with experience covering health, medicine, science, business, technology and design.

Member Comments

  • The only OTC med that works is Excedrin or Excedrin Migraine. The others are all worthless and cause other problems. Tylenol and Ibuprofen cause me even more pain. I've had migraines since I was at least 10 years old and I'm 61 now. Been on all sorts of meds and pain relievers. I've taken daily preventives and prescription pain meds for years - different ones because after a while, instead of helping they cause more problems. Waiting to get in to see my neurologist about changing my meds again - I had to quit my preventive meds because they were triggering more migraines. It gets old really fast. I realize that triggers can also help relieve the pain whether or not a doctor does, it happens. I can't give up caffeine or I get really bad migraines. There's a fine line between what helps and too much. Years ago and I mean back when aspartame came out, it would instantly give me a migraine. For years people called me a liar but now wow, it's a trigger. Don't ever let anyone tell you something can't trigger a migraine if it does in you. They're not the ones that have them, you are. It's been a struggle but I force myself to function even when I barely can tolerate movement. I've been told I couldn't have a migraine by other sufferers because I was trying to function normally - it didn't matter to them that I was on a daily preventive medication. Everyone's migraines are different. My former co-workers could tell I was going to have a migraine by my eyes - I never figured it out but they were dead on accurate. - 11/8/2015 9:45:35 PM
  • Ibuprofen and aspirin do absolutely nothing for migraines at least in my experience. Excedrin Migraine is the only OTC medication that helps mine and it is because it contains caffeine. I also disagree with limiting caffeine intake to prevent migraines, if I don't have caffeine in the morning it triggers migraines. Thankfully mine are not as bad or as frequent as they were during my childhood, I no longer vomit after having one and they are much less severe, I do have that drained feeling after one though. Hormones are the worst trigger of mine along with strong scents (smoke and perfume) and altering my sleep schedule especially if I nap during the day. - 10/16/2015 11:06:06 AM
    This is truly an very over simplified article on a complicated subject. It might be better titled how to help the headache sufferer. Those who have struggled with migraines any length of time know that easy answers aren't going to be found in a little article. These seem to encourage those that don't have migraines to try to give simple advice rather than help true migraine sufferers. Sorry but that's my take. I am an R.N. with my B.S.N. - 10/15/2015 7:05:50 PM
  • I THINK I have only had one migraine in my entire life but one was enough - I can stand most pain BUT I generally draw the line at headaches. - 5/30/2015 8:31:27 PM
  • I found that the majority of my migraines were a combination of stress from work and a nasty sinus infection that caused a build up of pressure in my nasal passages. After I quit my job, my migraines went down considerable. I'm still waiting on being able to afford the surgery to help me reduce the amount of sinus infections I get each year, but I'm getting there. Prescription meds and a low stress job have done wonders for me. - 8/30/2014 7:38:23 PM
  • I use to have migrain very bad. But I started to take excerdrin and that took them away. It work great. - 12/1/2013 3:09:02 PM
  • I have suffer from migraines for many years. Keeping a migraine diary did not help much. I usually get them a week before my period. My migraines are usually PMS related. After so many different medications I finally found my miracle medication! Amerge! I truly recommend it! It is a prescription medication and it works wonders! - 11/23/2013 12:00:13 PM
    For many years I suffered intense pain from migraine headaches. Often these attacks would last for days along with vomiting----- Then menopause happened, and no more attacks! My doctor believes it was a hormonal cure for me, and he said his mother experienced the same wonderful relief from headaches after menopause. Many unpleasant side-effects are attributed to menopause, but for me--- I am so lucky! - 11/13/2013 11:58:30 AM
  • Candida overgrowth caused mine. I went from daily migraines for a year to no headaches at all for three years, but had to do a super strict diet for ten days. Now, if I get a headache, my best fix is a batch of brown rice cooked with (canned) tomatoes. I can add ground turkey to it and stew it with cabbage, too, to make it like a cabbage roll casserole. Also helpful was brown rice pasta, green beans with almonds, and sour dough spelt bread with almond butter. I'm convinced these foods saved my life! It is so harmful to just mask an illness without making an attempt to find and fix the cause. - 11/9/2013 8:10:55 PM
  • Since beginning my serious SP journey in Oct 2012, I have not had a full blown migraine. I still have the last one of my super expensive migraine prescription pills that I carry with me everywhere just in case. I believe cutting caffeine to a minimum was the 1st step in minimizing mine. I would never have guessed that was one of my culprits. I knew wine was and had already cut wine out almost totally. Now I can have enough to enjoy with my Saturday night dinner and not get a headache. I always felt I had a genetic connection. Although my mother was never diagnosed I look back and remember days when I would come home from school and she was in the bed with a "sick headache". I pray for all those who suffer migraines. I am thankful my SP journey has helped me to curb mine to a minimum that when I start to get a headache over the counter meds will keep it under control so that I can function through it. - 11/9/2013 8:48:05 AM
  • I've had migraines since I was 8 and they are always painful. During my migraine attack I'm out, I can't do anything. After it's gone, well it's not really gone because I'm drained and I don't have the energy to get out of the bed.
    I used to end up in hospitals 3 or 4 times a month. Doctors didn't do much. My attacks were so severe that they thought I had a tumor or epilepsy but couldn't find anything. They didn't make a diagnose, didn't even try hard, just nothing... In my country, doctors don't do sh*t... Sorry for the language...
    Anyway I developed my own systems of course. I can tell two of them that works the best. First; I take a muslin (a cloth), wrap it around my head and tie it really tight. I know that sounds weird but works every time, it helps me so much. I also do the soak your hands and feet in warm water and put ice on the back of your neck technique. That helps a little too. - 11/9/2013 8:14:36 AM
    How to stop a migraine? Migraine medicine. I suffered from migraines since middle school. After graduating from college, they would get worse with nausea. Throwing up 2 or 3 times and usually at every half hour (how consistent, like me!). Two years ago I finally got migraine medicine, Relpax. It doesn't work for everyone of course. Take one, yes it will make you sleepy, but a few hours of sleep is far better than 18 hours of pain and suffering.

    The other medicine that helped? Birth control. Controlled the hormones while I maintain to a schedule of waking up and going to bed, staying away from triggers (extreme sudden temperatures i.e. hot day to a freezing room, fans blowing on me, etc) and it has made a big difference. I can still get a migraine, but rarely now.

    Everyone is different, experimentation is required. Good luck! - 11/9/2013 6:42:17 AM
    I have visual migraines as JiminyC does. They are usually triggered by stress, lack of sleep/disturbed sleep patterns, or bright lights. I've also found that deep regular breathing can help shorten the duration. I rarely get the headaches or nausea associated with 'normal' migraines, but I do experience the 'drained' feeling afterwards. - 11/9/2013 2:59:02 AM
  • I had migraines off and on through college but could always treat them with a large dose of advil. Later I moved back home (long story but it had to do with other health problems) . They got worse and my quack of a doctor refused to put me on migraine medication. Then I had emergency gall bladder surgery, was still in dire pain and 2 months later they discovered I had erosive gastritis (after 3 days inpatient for my sodium and magnesium hitting the floor) . And they found out I have very severe GERD. I was put on a medication to heal my tore up stomach. 3 days after I was released I had a migraine for 2 months and was sent to a neurologist. I was put on 2 migraine meds and eventually imitrex shots. This past August they gave me a MRI with contrast and discovered I had had a stroke. No symptoms before during or after but I had lost brain tissue in my left cerebellum. So I had to go off birth control (and now my extreme PMS is running wild and my periods come as often as every 2 weeks), I had to go off my migraine medicine, and I am desperately trying to quit smoking. My neurologist was no help in finding me a new med so I did it myself. I'm on generic finoral which has helped with the bad migraines. I'm also seeing another neurologist who put me on 300 Mg of topamax morning and night and gralise instead of lyrica because it was causing me to get migraines for my fibromyalgia. P - 6/20/2013 11:47:05 AM
  • I get migraines at the tail end of my menstrual cycle. About a year ago, I started taking birth control pills 3 months at a time, so at least now I get them every three months instead of every month! I should have done that years ago!!! I also get them if a bad storm front moves in. - 5/21/2013 3:55:14 PM

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