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Why Does Throwing Up Help A Migraine

Why Does Vomiting Help To Relieve Migraines

Why Can Severe Pain Make You Vomit?

Approximately 70% of migraine sufferers experience vomiting as part of their migraine attacks. In fact, childhood migraines can involve only nausea and sickness with no head pain at all. It may sound strange, but of the migraine sufferers who vomit as part of their migraine attacks, many find that they feel better after vomiting. Why is this?

There isnt a lot of research into this aspect of migraine pain relief, but of what there is, a review paper from 2013 summarises some possible reasons why vomiting can bring migraine headache relief.

One theory is that being sick triggers the release of chemicals which ease pain within the body. This theory is supported by a study from 1986 which suggested that vomiting triggers the release of endogenous opioids these being endorphins which ease feelings of pain.

Another theory is that throwing up could somehow interact with the vagus nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system in a way that relieves pain. Vagus nerve stimulation, as well as being able to induce vomiting, can also relieve migraine headache pain, and some doctors now use vagus nerve stimulation implants to relieve pain in those sufferers who experience chronic migraine headaches.

Two more theories are that vomiting may change the blood flow in the body in such a way that pain or inflammation is reduced, or that, since vomiting happens towards the end of a migraine attack, it may simply be the beginning of the reduction of migraine symptoms.

When You Get A Migraine

Try to treat your symptoms right away. This may help make the headache less severe. When migraine symptoms begin:

  • Drink water to avoid dehydration, especially if you have vomited
  • Rest in a quiet, dark room
  • Place a cool cloth on your head
  • Avoid smoking or drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Try to sleep

Over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, are often helpful when your migraine is mild.

Your health care provider may have prescribed medicines to stop a migraine. These drugs come in different forms. They may come as a nasal spray, rectal suppository, or injection instead of pills. Other medicines can treat nausea and vomiting.

Follow your provider’s instructions about how to take all of your medicines. Rebound headaches are headaches that keep coming back. They can occur from overuse of pain medicine. If you take pain medicine more than 3 days a week on a regular basis, you can develop rebound headaches.

Why Do You Throw Up When You Have Migraine

Migraine headaches afflict more than twenty-nine million Americans, and that represents approximately 10 percent of the population. Migraines trouble women about three times as much as men and migraines are not confined to adults with a sizeable number of children suffering from them as well. An attack lasts anywhere from a few hours to three or four days, and in the case of longer attacks, victims commonly experience secondary effects for more extended periods. In spite of the fact that migraine headaches are so common roughly half of all victims do not see a physician about their condition.

One common symptom of a migraine headache is nausea and vomiting, but remember that other causes of head pain can make your stomach upset, too. Whatever type you have, visit your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor will be able to figure out the cause and the best treatment to help you. The theory behind the vomiting when you have a migraine involves a brain chemical called serotonin. Scientists believe that a person is prone to migraine attack when some nerves in the brain signal the blood vessels on the brains surface to enlarge. What else makes them swell? Low levels of serotonin, which are also linked to motion sickness and nausea. People with low levels of serotonin are more likely to have migraines. Some people, mostly women, and individuals who are prone to motion sickness are more apt to get nausea with a migraine.

Also Check: Headache Vs Migraine Quiz

How Is Abdominal Migraine Treated

Once a child is diagnosed with abdominal migraine, treatment generally falls into two categories: relieving symptoms during an episode and preventing future episodes.

While there are few studies on the treatment and management of abdominal migraine, doctors may prescribe the following medications, based on their usefulness in treating migraines:

  • NSAIDs or acetaminophen to relieve the pain.
  • Triptans. This family of drugs is commonly used to treat migraine headaches and, if taken as soon as a migraine starts, can prevent symptoms from progressing.
  • Anti-nausea medication. Anti-nausea drugs act by blocking chemicals in the brain that trigger vomiting.

Some studies have shown evidence to support the use of the following medications in preventing abdominal migraine:

  • Pizotifen, a benzocycloheptene-based drug.

Managing A Vomiting Episode

Why Do You Throw Up When You Have Migraine ...

When a vomiting episode starts, it’s a good idea to stay in bed in a quiet, dark room and take any medicines you’ve been prescribed for this phase of the cycle.

Keep taking small sips of fluid, such as water or diluted squash, to prevent dehydration.

Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual or having dark yellow and strong-smelling pee.

After the vomiting episode has finished:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • gradually start eating your normal diet again
  • take any medicines you’ve been prescribed to prevent future episodes

Also Check: Headache Relieved By Vomiting

Know When To See Your Doctor For Migraine Nausea Relief

When you have persistent nausea with your migraine attacks it can be difficult to take medication to abort it if that medicine needs to be swallowed. Talk openly with your doctor about this concern. Several medications are available in injectable, nasal spray, patch, eyedrops and suppository forms for use when you cant keep anything down. If your nausea is accompanied by new symptoms, lasts more than two days, is frequent with your attacks or results in dehydration, contact your doctor for direction.

Its important to remember that these are tips and tricks for managing nausea are personal treatment strategies used by migraine patients. Tips were gathered by poll results from members of Migraine Strong. While throwing up can relieve a migraine attack, never intentionally induce vomiting. Always talk with your doctor before trying any medical treatment strategy, medication or supplement.

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Don’t Miss Interviews With Dr Amaal Starling + More Experts On The 2019 Migraine World Summit

Paula: Are there any other non-oral treatments, like some of the neuromodulation devices, that would be appropriate for somebody who’s got nausea and vomiting with their attacks?

Dr. Starling: Yes, so the other concept is that if we can treat early, then we may be able to prevent nausea and vomiting from occurring. Some of the neuromodulation devices, like the single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation device, are recommended for early treatment.

Studies have shown that if we treat early with that device, we’re able to prevent nausea and vomiting from even occurring.

Paula: Are there any options that might work for a stomach ache with a Migraine attack, like ginger?

Dr. Starling: I’m a proponent of anything that is not a medication that can be added onto medication treatments or non-oral treatments for pain as well as for nausea and vomiting. Ginger can be helpful.

Some patients have used B6 which can be helpful as well for nausea. Other patients have used the Sea-Bands that activate acupressure points. Other individuals will simply use acupressure points and acupuncture to help with nausea and vomiting.

Paula: Anything else you would like to add about overcoming nausea and vomiting?

Dr. Starling: The one thing that I really would like to emphasize is how debilitating nausea and vomiting is. I want to emphasize this to empower patients to make sure that when you meet with your doctor, that you talk to them about your treatment options for your GI symptoms.

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Is Nausea Or Vomiting More Common With Any Specific Type Of Migraine

Nausea and vomiting can occur with migraine with and without aura. These symptoms are often found in vestibular migraine, a type of migraine that may or may not come with head pain. Symptoms of vestibular migraine can include vertigo and loss of balance, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

People with vestibular migraine usually experience motion sickness beginning in childhood and have a history of migraine headaches.

How To Know If You Have A Migraine Headache

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Common Symptoms Include 1 Eye pain 2 Sensitivity to light or sound 3 Nausea 4 Vomiting 5 When usually severe pain happens on one side of the head that some individuals described as pounding

Those with another form of Migraine called cyclical vomiting syndrome, experience attacks of episodic vomiting that may not include head pain while those with abdominal Migraine, most often children, experience moderate to severe stomach pain lasting anywhere from 2 to 72 hours.

Recommended Reading: How To Get A Migraine

Mindfulness Being Still And Deep Breathing

Calming your mind can help in relieving uncomfortable tummy feelings. Limiting motion was a popular mention in our nausea relief poll. Deep breathing while being still is a mindfulness technique that works especially well for nausea. Sit upright, breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath for several seconds and slowly breathe out. Repeat several times until nausea subsides.

Inhaling peppermint while practicing the above technique can provide migraine nausea relief as well. Quease Ease by Soothing Scents is a blend of essential oils made to specifically target nausea. This is also the perfect time for you to reach for your favorite relaxation app like Calm or Headspace. If youre a visual person a deep breathing exerciser can help you to visually see if youre on the right track and give your brain more to focus on.

Recovery Or Postdrome Stage

This is the final stage of an attack, and it can take hours or days for a drained, fatigued or hangover type feeling to disappear. Symptoms can be similar to those of the first stage . Often, they mirror these symptoms. For example, if you lost your appetite at the beginning of the attack, you might be very hungry now. If you were tired, you might feel full of energy.

Being aware of the different stages of the migraine attack can be helpful. It can help you prepare for an attack, get a diagnosis and decide when to take acute treatment, such as painkillers or adapt your activities.

It is useful to have a rescue treatment plan for when attacks occur. This may include painkillers such as a triptan, a NSAID or paracetamol. It often also includes anti-sickness medication.

For other people, being aware of the stages and symptoms of a migraine attack can help their understanding. It may also help with the frustration and lack of understanding people often face around migraine, especially at work and in education.

Recommended Reading: How To Wean Off Nortriptyline For Migraines

Why Do Migraines Make You Throw Up

Migraine nausea occurs in as many as 90% and vomiting occurs in nearly 70% of those with migraine disease. Like most migraine symptoms, doctors are still unsure exactly whats happening in the body during a migraine attack that causes nausea & vomiting. So, the short answer is were not exactly sure why migraines make you throw up. It might be because the digestive process significantly slows down or even stops during a migraine attack. In addition to migraine making you throw up it can lead to constipation. Besides nausea and constipation, this slowing or stopping of the digestive process may also make it difficult for you to absorb your migraine medication.

Are Migraines Linked To Periods

Headache And Feel Like Puking

Many women do find that their menstrual cycle is linked to experiencing migraines. This is due to the hormonal changes caused by menstruation, and its why for some women, the migraines begin to tail off once they go through the menopause.

If your migraines occur just before the onset of menstruation, then it could be due to the drop in progesterone levels. Its also not uncommon for headaches and migraine attacks to occur when estrogen and other hormones peak during ovulation.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or naproxen, are the first port of call for treating a menstrual migraine.

If you need advice on the best way to treat migraines, you can start your free online consultation with the Independent Pharmacy today. One of our most popular migraine remedies is Sumatriptan which is a prescription-only drug.

You can find out what other customers thought of this medication on our Sumatriptan reviews page.

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How Long Does The Migraine Nausea Last

Unfortunately, thereâs no clear answer here. Because the migraine symptoms and attack timeline vary so much from person to person, itâs hard to predict when migraine-related nausea will clear up for you.

Your nausea might go away once the headache starts, but it could also last throughout the migraine or only appear when the attack is about to end.

Kids Experience Unique Stomach Issues With Migraine

Paula: Can you explain cyclical vomiting and abdominal migraines?

Dr. Starling: Cyclic vomiting syndrome and abdominal migraine are variants of Migraine, and they’re actually more common in our pediatric population. With abdominal migraine, individuals will have episodes of abdominal pain that is usually poorly localized somewhere in the stomach area.

These episodes will come and go, similar to migraine attacks that will come and go. There are patients for whom abdominal Migraine develops into a more chronic problem similar to Chronic Migraine.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome is another Migraine variant where they’ll have episodes where they’re unable to stop vomiting, and then episodes where they’re doing okay in between – similar to having episodic Migraine. Both of these things, as I mentioned, are more common in the pediatric population, but they can be treated effectively with the same types of medications that we use for Migraine, whether they have a headache or not.

That is another important concept: Migraine should not be synonymous to head pain. Migraine is a sensory processing disorder, and so some people have Migraine without any head pain at all, and they may only have nausea, the abdominal pain, all of these other symptoms that talk about.

Recommended Reading: Acetaminophen For Migraine

When A Migraine Is An Emergency

Migraine emergencies include: A severe migraine headache that lasts for three or more days without responding to standard migraine treatment: This is called status migrainosus, and it often requires medical intervention with intravenous medications that are not used for standard migraine treatment at home.

Over The Counter Medication

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There are many over the counter medications available to help manage migraine nausea symptoms. When tummies start gurgling our community mentioned using, Tums, Dramamine, Bonine, meclizine or Benadryl for migraine nausea relief. Remember these medications are for short term use. Vitamin B6 has also been used effectively to relieve nausea. As always, consult your doctor even when thinking of trying over the counter medications or supplements especially if symptoms persist.

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Injections Can Be Helpful But Are Not Commonly Used And You May Need A Specialist To Prescribe Them

  • Sumatriptan/Imitrex 6 mg comes in an auto-injector and is easy to use . Injectable sumatriptan acts very fast. It can cause particular side effects like jaw tightness and chest pressure, but these are not dangerous.
  • Dihydroergotamine 1 mg, exists in an injectable form, but the syringe has to be prepared and it takes training to be comfortable with this.
  • Ketorolac 30 mg is available, but you have to prepare the syringe It should be injected in the muscle and that takes some experience.
  • You can take one of the anti-nauseant medications with your non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication or your triptan if necessary .

    Speak to your doctor and decide which of these treatment options might be best for you. Design a «special option» for attacks that are more severe.

    If your migraine attacks are frequent and taking acute medications for your migraine attacks as discussed above is not working very well, then you might want to consider a daily preventive medication to make your attacks less frequent and less severe .

    If your attacks are very difficult to control, you may need to go to the Emergency Department. Read our page on this difficult situation .


    Worthington I, Pringsheim T, Gawel MJ, Gladstone J, Cooper P, Dilli E, et al. Canadian Headache Society Guideline: acute drug therapy for migraine headache. Can J Neurol Sci. 2013 40:S1-s80.


    Are Migraines Linked To Depression

    Migraines and chronic headaches are fairly common in people who suffer from anxiety, and can sometimes precede the onset of a mental disorder, such as depression. Some researchers believe there is a link between migraines and a predisposition towards having anxiety, depression and mood disorders possibly a genetic link.

    Migraine headaches aren’t usually triggered by other medical conditions, however, they can be triggered by some of the same issues that trigger depression, such as alcohol abuse.

    Also Check: Which Condition Commonly Accompanies Migraine Headaches

    What Causes Nausea Or Vomiting

    The causes of nausea and vomiting are quite similar. Many things can bring on nausea. Some common causes are:

    • Seasickness and other motion sicknesses
    • Early pregnancy
    • Various viruses
    • Certain smells or odors

    The causes of vomiting differ according to age. For adults, vomiting is commonly a result of a viral infection and food poisoning, and occasionally a result of motion sickness and illnesses in which the person has a high fever. For children, it is common for vomiting to occur because of a viral infection, food poisoning, motion sickness, overeating or feeding, coughing, and illnesses in which the child has a high fever. Although rare, blocked intestines can cause vomiting, most typically in early infancy.

    Usually vomiting is harmless, but it can be a sign of a more serious illness. Some examples of serious conditions that may bring on nausea or vomiting include:

    • Concussions
    • Migraine headaches
    • Brain tumors

    Another concern with vomiting is dehydration. Adults have a lower risk of becoming dehydrated because they can usually detect the symptoms of dehydration . Children have a greater risk of becoming dehydrated, especially if the vomiting occurs with diarrhea, because young children may often be unable to tell an adult about symptoms of dehydration. Adults caring for sick children need to be aware of these visible signs of dehydration:

    • Dry lips and mouth
    • Sunken eyes
    • Rapid breathing or pulse

    In infants, parents should look for decreased urination, and a sunken fontanelle .


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