Build your own migraine prevention kit to help you prepare for the next attack plus help manage stress and anxiety.
Warning: this head will explode in 19 minutes and counting ... 18, 17,... 16 ...
Being prepared is so important. I know you really don't want to think about planning ahead for a migraine attack.
As a matter of fact people will try to tell you that you are worrying your way to another attack.
That is not true. You have to be prepared because timing is everything.
In fact, the first twenty minutes are the most critical to effectively preventing or aborting your migraine attack. I never leave home without my: medications, water, sunglasses and hat. I know what you are thinking, hat hair! I don’t care as long as I am taking every precaution to remain migraine FREE!
In our desperation to relieve the intense pain and while I might be exposing myself, intense overwhelming emotions, we can reach for the wrong things. Things that may not be helpful, like over the counter headache tablets. Please read migraine vs headache for more details on why this is so important.
Over the counter headache tablets do not relieve migraines, on any level. If they do work for you, then what you are experiencing is not a migraine. Ok, my ranting about that aside, let’s get to what you can do now to build your migraine prevention kit.
Recognize your earliest migraine warning signals and symptoms. Have you
gotten to know your migraine pattern yet? It’s a bit hard to track when
they hit hard and fast. I only was able to determine my early symptoms
once I found effective abortive medication in Naramig.
Many reports highlight that the first twenty minutes of the attack is when you need to take action. So recognize your triggers and then symptoms, and act fast.
According to migravent.com makers of Migravent, you have about twenty minutes to stop your nerve cells from over reacting and spreading throughout your entire nervous system and setting off a full blown attack.
They say our “only window of opportunity to effectively reduce the severity and duration of a migraine attack is when you first notice the warning symptoms- fatigue, headache, wooziness, queasiness, or brain fog.”
I can't stress how important this is to help prevent a migraine.
My neurologist always said to take my tablets early, but I did not know what he meant for years because the pain was so unbearable. Now I know that the family of triptans are most effective when taken before this nerve storm takes hold and spreads.
They are my first port of call in my migraine prevention kit.
There are a number of prescription migraine medications and triptans that work effectively to abort your migraine if taken early enough. Please read our list of migraine medications and drugs for migraines.
There are also a number of migraine prevention medications for you and your doctor to consider. These include: antidepressants, beta blockers, and anticonvulsants. Deciding which medications to take will depend on the frequency and severity of your migraines. Daily prophylactics might be just what the doctor orders!
Of course you will need to discuss both benefits and side effects. You might like to consider taking prescribed or OTC anti-nausea medication. If you can't find effective medications, you will need to look for other options to include in your migraine prevention kit.
Some natural ways to deal with nausea are: peppermint, anti-nausea wrist bands, and fresh slices of ginger in hot water (ginger tea). What ever works best for you goes into your migraine prevention kit. Perhaps have a read of our article migraine relief without drugs.
Some vitamins, supplements and herbs are considered to aid neurological health, reduce inflammation, and sustain chromosomal integrity.
These include: Butterbur, Feverfew, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Folate, Co-Enzyme Q10, Magnesium, Vitamin C, and the spice turmeric.
I use supplements to be proactive.
Making lists can also be proactive and should be included in your migraine prevention kit. I call them To Do Lists, but you can name them anything: To my loving children, to my hubby, For Mom - I need you, etc.
a) I have one from my specialist/doctor listing: my medical diagnoses (more than one!), the appropriate medications to issue in an emergency room and what I take normally.
She also lists allergies to medications (Stemetil in my case) and the numerous supplements she has me on! I add my emergency phone numbers at the bottom of my family and husband, and my general physician’s phone number.
This comes in handy when I get to the hospital and I can’t speak properly – you know that one – and for new doctors. I leave it on the fridge, in plain sight, so anyone of us can grab it on the way out the door. Keep it on the fridge or somewhere easy and visible, so it’s handy for others to grab in a rush.
b) I have a list for my helper(s) as well, because of all my food allergies. You might like a list for family or friends that can help you out on short notice. I attach the list from my doctor behind it, with all the emergency numbers and another list of instructions for the hired help, if I need this option!
For example, the kids need to be fed at 5 pm sharp or its feeding time at the zoo. Dog needs walking at 7 pm, if nothing is in the freezer please feel free to order gluten free pizza! (Have a stash of cash for pizza emergencies!).
c) It is also good to have a separate list for your kids. Here you can tell them you love them, or you are sorry you can’t play right now or watch the movie with them (have a stash of movies, games and books for them somewhere).
d) I use a medication tracker in my migraine prevention kit. I always record the date, time and dose when I take the medications. I have to write things down because my cognitive ability reduces significantly. I call this migraine brain fog.
I recommend packing a little migraine bag, or a backpack with all the things you need to deal with your migraine attacks.
And just leave it there for when you need it.
This holds all the important stuff from above in one place.
I suggest packing these things in your migraine prevention kit:
a) One or even better two doses of your migraine medications. NEVER leave home without these. Never! Make sure you have them all: anti-nausea medication, abortive and ibuprofen. What ever works, you pack!
Make sure they are labelled well, and carry your little pink card (on supplements-for-migraines) with your instructions on it. This is helpful if you are trying new medications, and in the migraine brain fog where you may not be able to think clearly.
Large labels, an instruction card, or colored
plastic boxes, all make it easier to find when its dark and your
adrenaline is racing towards a panic attack.
b) Have a little note pad to write down the time you take your meds or print off this medication tracker.
c) A small bottle of natural spring water to take your pills with.
d) I pack a banana so I have something to take my pills with, instead of taking an anti-nausea tablet. Crackers or a piece of bread with peanut butter in a Tupperware container might work too. It does depend on how long ahead of time you are packing your bag.
e) Ice packs for migraine relief and
f) A hot water bottle, hand warmers or a small electric blanket. You might like to read how to treat a migraine with ice and heat.
g) Anti-nausea wrist bands.
h) Wet wipes or a face cloth you can wet with either cold or hot water.
i) A small hand towel, or just a towel, which ever you prefer. This comes in handy if you need to wipe up vomit, or wash yourself off.
j) One or two large zip-lock bags. I know, this one is not so nice to talk about – but we need to deal with the vomiting.
k) Pack your lists from #3: Doctors instructions, emergency phone numbers, etc.
l) Stash some cash from #3! Plus you might need to take a taxi home from work if you are past the point of being able to drive home.
m) Pack an eye sleeping mask, a pair of sunglasses and a hat, in case it’s a really sunny day and you need to get home fast.
n) Some people have even suggested ear plugs to me, but I prefer having my MP3 player with all my favorite relaxation music and guided meditations on it. It’s up to you depending on how much noise you can tolerate during a migraine attack.
I love Candace Pert's Psychosomatic Wellness and these ones:
o) I have a small bottle of essential lavender oil to help me calm down,
and peppermint oil for the nausea. Sometimes I remember to take some
rescue remedy. Tissues to put the drops on .....
I will stop there because you need to be able to pick up the back pack! I think this migraine prevention kit might be getting a bit heavy now!
That’s easy – just stop worrying! Right?
Now you have some tools in your migraine prevention kit to use, you will feel less anxious.
But wait there's more! Even more things to put in your migraine prevention kit.
Stress is a normal part of our biological functioning and it is a necessary part of life. It keeps us alert, aware and safe from danger. However, our everyday habits can interfere with our body’s natural ability to notice stress and they numb our physical sensations.
Things like holding tension in our muscles, ignoring body signals, clenching our jaw or holding our breath, interfere with signals to move or make a change.
I sure notice my breathing is much shallower when I spend a day on the computer. Plus I can go all day without eating if I am not careful. My body awareness, that I am quite proud of I might add, just falls by the way side. Migraineurs need to eat regularly to maintain balanced blood sugar levels.
Stress is different for everyone. Some people thrive on stress, say at work, or public speaking and others crumble. A bit of stress is normal, but I think our lives have gotten so busy and over stimulated by incoming technical information, that we get much more stressed out then we think.
Plus, I think it has been so long now, with this sensory over load, that we have come to think of it all as normal. Do you get sensory overload with your migraines? I sure do. Lights, loud sounds, computer glare, the list goes on.
I used to think that stress was more from experiencing the trauma of major life changes like divorce, terminal illness, a car accident or being homeless. Extreme I know!
But stress can also be from our own internal voice and inability to accept what is going on in our lives. Many people are disconnected from their emotions and can’t feel their stress, or just have adjusted to certain levels of it.
It seems to me now, that just everyday life can stretch us to our limits: a long commute to work, a conflict with the boss, money problems, or sudden illness (migraines) just to name a few. Pessimism, negative self talk, perfectionism, lack of assertiveness can all also play a role in creating stress.
Now, enter migraines! They fit the above criteria. I used to think to myself “I’m not stressed out at all, I love my job”, but I did not think about the physical stress to my nervous system, my heart, my brain and my eyes.
All of the body parts affected by the migraine attack were under unseen stress, so I could just ignore them. Right?
For more details on reducing stress and adding more tools to your migraine prevention kit, please read
How to Prevent Migraines: Managing Stress Article which is page two of this article.
Or just really quickly, here are a few to add to your migraine prevention kit:
1. Know exactly what your first step is to stop the attacks.
2. Do progressive muscle relaxation or breathing relaxation exercises.
3. Listen to music that calms you down.
4. Check out this Migraine Emergency Kit at Amazon.
5. Reduce glare - wear protective eyewear - FL-41 Tints from Axon - Awesome!
Disclaimer: This article is designed to provide accurate and educational information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is written with the understanding that the author is not engaged in providing professional psychological, financial, legal or any other professional services.
If expert assistance or counseling is needed in this area, please seek the services of a competent health professional in your local area. Feel free to present and share these ideas.
Migraine Prevention Kit References:
1. Bourne, E. J. PhD., (2000) The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook. Harbinger Publications, Inc.: New York, NY.
2. Segal, J. Ph.D., Smith, M. M.A., and Robinson, L. Quick Stress Relief. [Online] Available: http://www.helpguide.org/toolkit/quick_stress_relief.htm
Your Migraine Prevention Kit