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Migraine Hangovers Are a Bitch — Here's How to Handle Them

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If you Google “migraine treatments” or “dealing with migraine,” you’ll find lots of helpful information for dealing with headache and the symptoms that accompany it. Unfortunately, I think many people forget that there are actually four “phases” within each migraine: prodrome, aura (if you experience them), headache (or attack), and postdrome. While I definitely hate the headache portion and know it’s the worst to deal with, the postdrome phase, or hangover, can be a real bitch to deal with as well.

You know what, though? There are also things you can do to handle your migraine hangovers in the same way you manage the physical pain and other symptoms you experience during the height of the attack.

Care for Your Physical Body

Caring for your body can be one of the hardest parts of living with migraine. Even after the pain of the migraine attack fades away, it’s often still hard to perform the most basic tasks. However, rest, hydration, and nutrients are exactly what your body needs in the aftermath of a migraine attack, even if you still feel awful.

During the postdrome phase, our bodies are recovering and healing from our most recent attack. Just like when we’re healing from any other type of illness, we need to give our bodies what they need to recover.  So, try your best to eat a balanced diet filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables plus grains and protein, drink plenty of water, and allow yourself the time and space to rest as much as you need.

Utilize Comfort Items

After a migraine attack, many of us experience muscle tension and other aches alongside the brain fog and other symptoms. Unfortunately, medications aren’t always helpful for these “hangover” symptoms, but you probably have other items in your migraine toolkit that are.

If you deal with neck and shoulder tension, a heating pad, massage gun, or ointment like Tiger Balm may help. Or, if you just feel exhausted and unable to function, curling up in a soft blanket with an audiobook or something else easy on the eyes may help. Some people also find a warm bath or shower helpful (bonus points if your partner starts it for you).

Regardless of which options you choose, the point remains — utilizing those comfort items during the “hangover” period can make it at least a little more bearable.

Take Things Slow

If your migraine attack completely knocked you out for the past day (or three), chances are you feel obligated to “hit the ground running” as soon as the attack subsides. However, pushing yourself full force often makes your hangover symptoms worse (or in my case leads to, you guessed it, another migraine).

Honestly, the best thing you can do for yourself during the postdrome phase is to take things slow. If you’re going to try working, consider limiting your hours or taking frequent breaks. If you have small children to care for, plan low-energy activities for the day or reach out to someone who can give you a break for a bit during the day. And, regardless of what you’re doing, listen to your body, take breaks or naps as needed, and look for ways to relax as you move through the day.

Dealing with migraine hangovers definitely isn’t fun. In fact, postdrome is a real bitch sometimes. However, I have personally found that I can at least tolerate the aftermath of my attacks when I take care of myself physically and emotionally.

Getty image by Eye Em.

Originally published: May 6, 2022
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