Have you packed one yet? I recommend getting your own migraine prevention kit together to help you prepare for the next attack. Being prepared will help you manage pain, stress and pre-migraine anxiety too.
Warning: this head will explode in 19 minutes and counting ... 18... 17... 16 ... 15... 14...
I know you really don't want to think about planning ahead for a migraine attack, but being prepared is so important.
As a matter of fact people will try to tell you that you're 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 prevent or abort an attack.
I never leave home without my: abortive 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 your desperation to relieve the unbearable pain you might experience some intense and overwhelming emotions. This is when you might 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 their own. If they do work for you, then what you are experiencing may not be a migraine. It might be helpful to read what are migraines. Now let’s get straight to what you can do now to help manage attacks and what to put in your migraine prevention kit.
Before I get to what to pack in your migraine prevention kit, I want to mention 3 things that are really important.
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.
According to migravent.com makers of Migravent, your “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.”
Getting the timing right can mean the difference between heaven and hell. I talk all about that in my course... here's the link.
There are a number of prescription migraine medications and triptans that work effectively to abort your migraine if taken early enough. This list of migraine medications and this post drugs for migraines will show you the current ones.
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 (click here for my ginger tea recipe). Whatever works best for you goes into your migraine prevention kit. If you prefer a more natural approach, please read migraine relief without drugs.
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 most important thing in my migraine prevention kit.
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. I go over this in detail in my migraine pain management course, but I will tell you my two must have lists:
From My Doctor
I have one list from my specialist/doctor listing: my medical migraine diagnosis, my prescribed medication and the appropriate medications to issue in an emergency room.
It is also good to list any allergies to medications and supplements. 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 might know that one. This is a good list for any new doctors. Keep it on the fridge or somewhere easy and visible, so it’s handy for others to grab in a rush, if you can't.
For My Kids or Family
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, food and books for them somewhere).
And there's a list for hubby for what needs to be done, like feed the kids at 5pm and walk dog around 7!
I recommend packing a little migraine bag, or a backpack with all the things you need to deal with your migraine attacks. You can get this one on Amazon.
And just leave it there for when you need it.
This holds all the important stuff from below all 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. Whatever works, you pack!
Make sure they are labelled well. Try these instructions on supplements for migraines (little pink card). 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 it's dark and your
adrenaline is racing towards a panic attack.
b) Have a little notepad 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. Please read how to treat a migraine with ice and heat.
g) Anti-nausea wrist bands.
h) Wet wipes or a face cloth you can dampen 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) Your lists from #3: Doctors instructions, emergency phone numbers, etc.
l) Stash some cash if you don't have a credit card. You might need to take a taxi home from work if you are past the point of being able to drive home.
m) A blackout eye mask, a pair of sunglasses and a hat, in case it’s a really sunny day and you need to get home fast.
n) Earplugs for noise intolerance. 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.
o) Essential Oils if their smell is not a trigger. Lavender oil can help you calm down and peppermint oil can reduce nausea. Sometimes I remember to take some rescue remedy. Tissues to put the drops on... or some carrier oil.
I will stop there because you need to be able to pick up the bag! I want you to be able to carry your migraine prevention kit with you if you need to!
If you get regular chronic migraines you have more stress in your life. Period. Now stress is not the only trigger, but it can be a big one.
And you have some tools in your migraine prevention kit to use, so you should feel less anxious and more prepared... right?
If you don't, let me suggest putting my new eBook in your migraine prevention kit. It has an easy step by step process to help you deal with stress and making major life decisions.
Stress is a normal part of your biological functioning and it's a necessary part of life. It keeps you alert, aware and safe from danger. However, your everyday habits can interfere with your body’s natural ability to notice stress.
Stress is not just from experiencing the trauma of major life changes like divorce, terminal illness, a car accident or being homeless. It can also be from your own internal voice and inability to accept what's going on in your life.
Everyday life can stretch you to your 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 and the physical stress to your nervous system, heart, brain and eyes.
All of the body parts affected by the migraine attacks are under unseen stress... and it's hard to ignore them. My eBook Migraine Management: How To Reduce Anxiety, Manage Pain and Prevent Attacks explains why you feel that pre-migraine panic and what you can do about it.
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