Eating and Drinking
Q: Does it make a difference if I eat during a migraine attack?
A: Yes, it does make a difference. You do not have to eat or drink very much; the nausea and vomiting associated with a migraine attack may make it difficult. However, the longer you wait to eat or drink, the more nausea you will experience. Many people believe that eating or drinking will make the nausea worse. This is incorrect: your stomach is not causing the nausea; the nausea and vomiting are symptoms of the attack. The longer you go without eating, the more severe your hypoglycemia becomes and the worse the migraine attack and nausea.
Q: What can I eat or drink when I have a migraine attack?
A: First, keep it simple. The last thing you will want to do is prepare food. It is important that you have some carbohydrate, protein, and water, but do not have the carbohydrate without protein. Many people will sip juice and eat crackers, only to fuel their migraine with a sugar buzz. It is easier to take small amounts frequently. You can try toast or crackers with mild cheese, turkey, or chicken. Drink at least 8 ounces of water an hour until the migraine attack stops. Increase water intake if you are vomiting.
Q: What if I’m in a situation where I can’t eat or drink something?
A: It is important that you keep your “headache snack” and water readily available along with your abortive medication. Treating a migraine attack immediately is as important as treating a low blood sugar episode is for someone with diabetes. If you are in a situation where you cannot have your “headache snack,” proceed with your medication and water. It is important that you stop what you are doing for a while as soon as possible and eat.


Q: How important is rest or relaxation in the treatment of a migraine attack?
A: It may be tempting to take a pill and continue with the task at hand during an attack, but this may make things worse. A migraine attack is caused by excitation of brain cells and to reduce this excitation you must stop stimulating these cells. It doesn’t take long to stop an attack if you act quickly. You must treat the migraine attack as soon as it starts and not wait for it to get worse.
Q: How should I relax?
A: There are many relaxation techniques you can use to help abort a migraine attack. The one you choose needs to fit your personality and belief system. You may want to learn formal relaxation methods such as meditation or biofeedback techniques. If you are a person of faith, you might use prayer. You may want to listen to music or audio books. It is important that you avoid visual stimuli so I would suggest that you do not read, watch television, or work on a computer. For some people a massage is helpful; for others the last thing they want is to be touched. Relaxation is a personal matter, so whatever works for you is the method to use.
Q: How important is one’s environment for relaxation during a migraine attack?
A: Reducing environmental stimuli during a migraine attack helps reduce brain excitation. Resting in a quiet, dark, scent-free place will help to stop a migraine attack. Even if you cannot find such a place, it is important to pause, treat the attack, and sit back with closed eyes for 5–15 minutes. If the attack continues for more than 2 hours, you will need to repeat your medications, stop activity completely, and rest.

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