In case you’re thinking this is a post about drinking, it’s not. It is, however, about hangovers—those brought on by migraines are just as draining and challenging, without having had the benefit of a party. And they require the same level of careful nursing to come out safely on the other side, too.
What Is a Migraine Hangover?
The hangover stage is the fourth stage in the migraine attack, and it even has a name. Called “postdrome,” it’s the exhausted, not-quite-over feeling that you get when you’re just coming out of the migraine. Hangover symptoms include:
- Tiredness, as if the patient has run a marathon or been beaten up
- Difficulty concentrating, with a sense of mental confusion or “brain fog”
- Weakness in legs and arms, as if they are weighed down, moving through mud or quicksand
- Dizziness and a sensation of lightheadedness
- Reduced energy levels
- Ongoing dull headache pain, which is made worse by sneezing or coughing
- Sensitivity of skin and scalp, with the brain described as feeling “bruised”
- Mood swings, agitation, impatience, annoyance and depression
Studies show that up to 68% of respondents experienced hangover symptoms lasting from a few hours to a couple of days, with an average duration of 25 hours. And all without having had the fun of a party and lots of laughs!
9 Strategies for Nursing a Migraine Hangover
So what can you do to help recover from your migraine and minimize the effects of the hangover stage? Here are some fave strategies that have helped multiple other sufferers over time:
#1: Don’t Push It
The number one recommendation from doctors and patients alike is don’t try and rush back to work (or any other regular activities.) Take your time dealing with the postdrome period and don’t let others expect you to be up to speed
#2: Get Some R ‘n R
Remember, you weren’t “resting” while you had the migraine, just because you were in bed. You were fighting a demon in a long, drawn-out battle that has left you beaten and bloodied! Get some real rest, take a nap and go for a gentle walk.
#3: Stay Unplugged
Avoid your computer, mobile phone, television and any of the multiple other electronics that demand your time. You’re likely to be light-sensitive during the postdrome migraine phase, and looking at a screen could make the hangover last longer than it needs to.
#4: Drink Water
Hydration is particularly vital if you’ve had to deal with nausea and vomiting during the migraine. Various medications can also help to dehydrate you, and getting your fluid levels back up to optimum is a crucial step in starting to feel better.
#5: Skip the Coffee
Caffeine doesn’t have any benefits whatsoever for this kind of hangover. At best, it will do nothing besides give you some enjoyment. At worst, it will help keep you dehydrated and could even spark a fresh round of symptoms.
#6: Eat Good Food
If you’ve gone through the duration of a migraine without eating—or perhaps lost what you did eat—then it’s important to give your body some health nourishment. Fresh fruit and veggies, lean meat, chicken and fish are ideal for replenishing some of the nutrients you’ve lost. Avoid foods that can trigger a migraine relapse, like dairy products and foods with high fat or salt content.
#7: Pop Some Tablets
If you can tolerate them, over-the-counter pain and fever meds can be really helpful. Products containing ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen and aspirin are great for helping to numb the hangover aches, and work just as well for postdrome as they do for party hangovers.
#8: Use Supplements
Some migraine sufferers swear by the efficacy of supplements such as riboflavin and magnesium. Taking them regularly can help to ease both the migraine and the hangover symptoms. Herbal products such as ginger tea can help relieve nausea and rehydrate at the same time.
#9: Avoid Stress
Look for ways to avoid stressful situations, particularly while you’re dealing with the hangover. Whether it’s caused by depression, anxiety or even positive changes such as moving into a new house, anything that stresses you can drag out the postdrome period.
Don’t let the migraine hangover hang around any longer than necessary. Nurse yourself through this time, get lots of TLC and you’ll emerge on the other side ready to face a brand new day.