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Home / Migraine / The best migraine treatments to help relieve pain

The best migraine treatments to help relieve pain

Different ways you can get rid of migraines

A migraine is one of the most common health conditions. They can affect men, women, and children - and studies show it is the third most common health condition in the world.

Migraines are very painful headaches. They cause a throbbing sensation on one or both sides of the head. They also make you very sensitive to light and sound and often cause nausea and vomiting.

A boy suffering from a headache

Luckily, you can try many different things to stop your migraine. These range from basic at-home solutions to certain prescription medicines. Keep reading to find out the options, so you can figure out what works best for you.

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you feel a migraine coming on, try some of the following methods that you can do at home.

Lie down in a dark, quiet place - migraines make you extra sensitive to light and noise, so closing your eyes in a quiet place will make you more comfortable.

Use a hot or cold compress - experts aren’t sure why, but changing the temperature to either hot or cold can help with pain relief.

A woman applying a cold compress to her head

Drink a cup of coffee - a small amount of caffeine can reduce migraine pain by narrowing your blood vessels.

Try to manage stress - stress and migraines go hand in hand, so limiting the stress in your life might make your migraines less frequent.


Over-the-counter painkillers can be very effective at treating migraines. Before going straight to the doctor, try using ibuprofen, paracetamol, or aspirin to help with pain relief.

It is best to take the medicine as soon as you feel a migraine coming on. This gives you the best chance of stopping the migraine from happening at all.

An older woman taking a painkiller with water

If you wait to take painkillers once the migraine is already very painful, you may not feel much better.

Some painkillers work more quickly than others. For example, you can dissolve dispersible tablets (such as soluble aspirin) in water, rather than swallowing them whole.

This will absorb into your body much more quickly than a normal tablet that is swallowed whole, so it will offer the fastest pain relief.

An image containing lots of painkillers

Make sure that you don’t take painkillers too frequently. If you take them often and for a long time, you might start having medication overuse headaches (MHO).

This is when the painkillers you take to help your migraine have the opposite effect. After a while, you might find your migraines are getting worse.

To avoid this, try using a different medicine, such as triptans.

Prescription medicines: Triptans

Triptans are a type of medicine used to treat migraines. They work by reversing the changes in the brain that cause migraines. They also stop the pain nerves from being overactive.

A study Trusted source PubMed Government Source Database of Biomedical Research Go to source on nitrates was conducted with a group of people who get frequent migraines. Out of the people who were given triptans as medicine, 76% of people felt significantly better after just 2 hours.

It is best to take this treatment as soon as you feel a migraine coming on. The medicine will not prevent or stop a migraine from happening, but it is effective at relieving pain.

At euroClinix, you can buy the following triptan medicines:

  1. Sumatriptan
  2. Almotriptan
  3. Zolmitriptan (sometimes called Zolmig)

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Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan can be found in tablet form, or in the form of a nasal spray. But what’s the difference?

Tablets vs. Nasal sprays

Some triptans, such as Almotriptan, are only available in tablet form. Tablets are good because they are easy to take, and they start to work pretty quickly.

Dispersible tablets are even better because your body absorbs them even more quickly.

A girl using a nasal spray

However, some triptans come in the form of nasal sprays (you spray the medicine up your nose). For example, you can take Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan as a tablet or as a nasal spray.

Nasal sprays can be better than tablets for several reasons:

  1. It is common to throw up when you are experiencing a migraine. Taking migraine medicine in pill form might not stay in your system. If you throw up, the medicine will come up with it.
  2. Nasal sprays act much faster than tablets do. Your nose has lots of blood vessels in it, meaning the medicine has easier access straight into your system.
  3. Tablets, on the other hand, take around an hour or more to be absorbed into your bloodstream. The medicine needs more time to be absorbed through the stomach walls.

Anti-sickness tablets

Anti-sickness medicines (called anti-emetics) are available to treat nausea and vomiting that can happen during a migraine.

A man looking quite nauseous

This medicine will not stop the migraine from happening or help with pain relief. But it can make you feel better by stopping the queasiness.

You can buy anti-emetics in your local pharmacy, under names such as Pepto-Bismol. But if you need something stronger, you can get anti-sickness medication from your GP or an online health provider.

Alternatively, you can try taking motion sickness medicine, as these can stop you from feeling nauseous and sick too.

Here you can look at and compare the different treatments for migraines.

Pain-killers Triptans Anti-emetics
Is it available over the counter?
Does it give you pain relief?
Does it help with nausea?
What form is the treatment?
Is it fast acting?

For all the medicines shown above, take one dose at the first sign of a migraine. This gives you more time for the medicine to work before the migraine gets really bad.

Alternative medicine

There are also some surprising methods of treating migraines, including Botox and a special type of ear piercing.

These are examples of alternative treatments because they are not backed up by science. But, many people have found these methods helpful for relieving their migraines.

You can also try using certain vitamins, minerals, or herbal remedies.

Vitamin B2 - this vitamin is thought to reduce a type of stress in the brain that leads to migraines.

Magnesium - this important mineral helps with blood pressure, as well as nerve and muscle function. A lack of magnesium has been linked with migraines, so you might find it beneficial to take some supplements.

Vitamin D - similarly, a lack of this vitamin has also been linked to migraines. In addition to magnesium, you can try upping your vitamin D intake.

Peppermint - available in tea leaf, oil, or capsule form, peppermint has many health benefits. It is known for treating nausea and stomach problems effectively.

Ginger - a spice with anti-inflammatory properties that can fight against viruses and bacteria. Ginger has been a traditional remedy for headaches and migraines for hundreds of years.

Treatment for certain types of migraine

Some migraines might get better with different treatments or medicines. See the different types of migraines below and how to best treat them.

Vestibular migraine:

You might feel dizzy and off balance with this type of migraine. Try to avoid triggers such as being in moving vehicles, or looking at busy screens.

Abdominal migraine:

This migraine involves feeling stomach pain. Some foods can trigger these, so try to keep a food diary to find out the possible cause.

Hormonal migraines:

Women are more likely to experience migraines because of their changes in hormones.

The hormone oestrogen plays a big role in the menstrual cycle. It helps your ovaries to release an egg and prepares your womb for pregnancy.

However, this hormone is often the cause of hormonal or menstrual migraines.

Your oestrogen levels spike before ovulation, and then drop again, leading up to your period. So, a hormonal migraine will probably happen up to three days before your bleeding starts. During this window, you are most likely to experience a hormonal migraine.

Oestrogen levels also drop when a woman enters menopause (when you stop getting your period around the ages of 45-50). If you are beginning menopause, you might start getting menopausal migraines.

So, what are some ways to treat hormonal migraines?

  1. If you are on hormonal contraception, try taking your pill packs back to back instead of taking a break. This means you avoid your oestrogen levels dropping.
  2. Or you might find that hormonal contraception is making your migraines worse. In this case, talk to your doctor to find a solution.
  3. Try some simple lifestyle changes. Go to sleep at the same time each day and eat your meals at set times. You can also try exercise, yoga, or massages to reduce your stress levels.
  4. You can also try using an oestrogen patch during menopause. This regulates the hormone and stops the levels from dropping as much.

Migraine treatment in pregnancy

Your oestrogen levels start to rise when you become pregnant. However, migraines can still happen during your first trimester (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy).

The first step to help a migraine during pregnancy is to take paracetamol. Other medicines could be harmful to the baby, so make sure you talk to a doctor or midwife before taking anything.

Instead, try to stick to natural remedies for migraine relief. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.

If you have migraines often (around 8-10 times per month) you might be experiencing chronic migraines. Talk to your doctor and consider making lifestyle changes. Knowing what triggers your migraines is the first step to stopping them from happening.

Finding the best treatment for migraine

So remember, there is no cure for migraines. But there are different home remedies and medicines you can try to lessen the pain.

Always start by trying at-home solutions, as they might make you feel better without the need for medicine. Lying down in a dark, quiet room is always a great first step.

If you are still in a lot of pain, you can take a dose of painkillers. Make sure you take dispersible tablets for the fastest action.

Lastly, you can try out some alternative medicines, or take prescription medicine from your GP or an online health provider. Triptans and anti-sickness medication can give you effective relief from migraines.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Anand Abbot MRCGP Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 30-12-2023

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Further reading

The relationship between migraines and sleep

The relationship between migraines and sleep

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Surprising and Unusual Methods of Treating Migraines

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