My Migraine Essentials – Helpful Products – When The Meds Don’t Cut It
My Migraine Essentials – Helpful Products – When The Meds Don’t Cut It
As chronic migrainers, we become accustomed to a certain level of pain. This beautiful world becomes one where every single sound, taste, smell and action is amplified. And boy, do we know about it. Sometimes Often medication, whether OTC or prescription (let’s face it, if you’re in the ‘chronic migraine club’ you’re probably also hanging in the ‘prescription meds club’ too) just doesn’t cut it and we reach for something, anything in the praise be to the ‘end the migraine’ god’s moments of desperation. It’s always good to help a fellow in need so today I’m sharing with you all my migraine essentials, the bits and bobs I reach for to help me cope when it’s all a pain in the neck.
Pun clearly intended.
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Heat V cold
You will find that for me and my head cold wins, always. However, my (forever chilled reptilian like) body always needs warmth and so to start a little Bruce-y Bonus.
I couldn’t live without my bed heater. A heated mattress underblanket that soothes my aching body and tortured soul (cue ‘You poor unfortunate souls’ from The Little Mermaid 🎵). It’s soothing and it just helps when I feel battered by illness and migraine (so, erm constantly.) Plus it’s cosy. End of.
One night as I lay, an ice pack underneath my shoulders, another beneath my neck and base of my skull, I realised this had been my nightly routine now for nearly four years. It had started with one ice pack and grown to two as the pain worsened. A sweeping thought made we wonder if such constant, frequent ice ‘therapy’ could cause nerve damage? In the next, I genuinely thought ‘at least the pain wouldn’t be as bad’. If that isn’t the thought process of someone with chronic pain, I don’t know what is.
I do however know that ice packs are a necessity for me. I get swelling at the base of my skull, as well as pain. The cold helps reduce this swelling as well as take the edge off the pain and relax muscles.
I do not recommend freezing yourself to the point of nerve or skin damage, however… they say 20 minutes at a time for ice therapy.
To ensure there are always Ice packs ready to go, I have six in total which I use in rotation. Meaning they are always fully frozen and that I have two spares for a daytime emergency.
But the cold doesn’t stop there. A gift from Santa, the Migraine Cap is incredible. Essentially, a Lycra ski mask with small ice packs sewn inside. The lycra also creates a pleasant light tension which is soothing and the style of the ‘cap’ which covers your eyes, helps block out light. The cool packs are strategically placed to sit on pressure points for added relief.
Store in the freezer for when you feel a migraine rearing its pesky head.
Argh, the exact ‘Magic Gel Migraine Cap’ I have is currently not available on Amazon (where I got it from, via Santa 🎅🏻)!
Need something on the go? I’ve got you sorted. I was so relieved the first time I tried this. Out of the house (shocking in itself), I felt a migraine encroaching. My Mum, on Mum/Carer/Superwoman duty, fled to the nearest chemist in search of anything to help lessen the rath, slow down the onslaught till we got home (you know the drill). Low and behold she found a gem.
🥶 Freeze Gel I used to use the spray version of this back in my dancer days (a brief moment of silence for those please…and swiftly moving on), knowing I could never tolerate the smell in these chronic illness days, I’ve never touched the stuff since, ‘till now.
Is there a smell? A gentle menthol yes. Is it overpowering, no. Trust me, coming from this Spoonie with major sensor sensitivities, that speaks volumes.
This stuff is great. A quick application from a roll on, no sticky hands, and you feel a cooling, relaxing relief momentarily. It’s drug-free, can be reapplied and being a handy roll on it is easy to keep on your person and travel with. I now have multiples in different bags and rooms of the house.
I’ve growled about this little balm for an age and for good reason, it works. It is little, a tiny little glass jar but boy, does it last.
Melt the balm between your fingers then rub into muscles. Within a few minutes a zingy, tingly, cooling sensation helps relax and soothe tension and pain when migraine soars.
I use this all over my neck and shoulders and take it over my forehead and temples too. I genuinely find this beneficial.
It does have a distinctive smell however and can be a little overwhelming depending on how bad my migraine is affected by smells at that time. I try to use Tiger Balm as a preventative, or just as I feel a migraine attack about to start.
To some, the smell may not be strong in the slightest, however. I am particularly sensitive in this manner. I would describe it as a medicinal menthol smell.
When the world becomes too noisy for you, you know there’s a problem.
For me blocking out noise is an essential migraine strategy. The sensitivity overload I feel from noise is overwhelming and can bring on a migraine in no time.
Over the years I have tried many an earplug and settled on a final two.
A longtime firm favourite and for good reason. Although more expensive in comparison to their foam counterparts, Bio Ears come in a reusable set of three and in my opinion provide superior noise defence.
Being silicone they mould easily to the ear and are also waterproof. They last well and can be cleaned.
I just wish they came in clear rather than blue so they were less visible.
New to me after a recommendation, the PartyPlug by Alpine are noise reduction, hearing protection earplugs. Designed for concert goers, these earplugs are intended to protect your ears around loud noise such as concerts, while still retaining sound quality.
There is a clear reduction in noise, yet you can still make out a conversation. They are easy to wear, are small so do not look like you’re wearing anything and function well. I’m a fan.
When builders moved in to start work on the building adjacent to my bedroom window for 11 months I developed Trigeminal Neuralgia Life became increasingly unbearable. Thankfully, I am beyond lucky and have the best parents ever who treated me to a pair of BOSE noise control headphones 🎧.
Currently, due to the whole migrainer-noise-sensitivities-my-body-being-a-complete-mess thing, I’m unable to fully enjoy the headphones and use the music side of things, for now, they are primarily a noise cancelling feature. Let me tell you, they are a dream. They really do work. An awesome feature is being able to control the level of noise cancellation you desire, from barely there to full-fledged blissful ahhhhhhh.
Now look, I’m aware these aren’t affordable headphones. I certainly couldn’t have afforded them myself but I feel it would be wrong of me to not give them a little mention given just how good they are and how much relief they provide.
For those in a situation who are interested in finding out more, they come recommend from me.
So, there you have it. A collection of my migraine essentials, when meds just don’t cut it. Some may work for you, others not. What we must remember is that like everything in life our experiences are personal and what might work for one person, may not for another. The best we can do is share what helps us in the hope that it might just lighten someone else’s burden. That’s all I hope for.
To my fellow chronic migrainers: I feel your pain, you’re not alone in this.
For those who may not fully understand or appreciate the gravity of chronic headache and migraine: please be patient. No one wants to live with this level of pain in their head. Appreciate that the person suffering is struggling and be considerate of what makes it worse for them (noise, smell, sound, moment). Support them by sharing this post, you never know these tips might just help relieve their pain a little.
Do you have any tips for dealing with your migraines and chronic headaches?
And any migraine essentials to help you cope that you can’t live without? Share them with myself and fellow readers in the comments below!
Until recently I have started to feel headaches, never before. They are bothersome, can’t imagine what’s like a migraine. You provided great alternative treatment options!
I’m sorry you’ve started to suffer from headaches! They’re very unpleasant! Hopefully, some of these options can help you when you’re in pain? Yes, migraines are horrid! Thanks for reading!
Great post, Amy! I don’t get migraines to the extent you describe. I can’t imagine how difficult that can be. My more limited experience involves debilitating tension headaches at the base of my skull. They seem to come for a period of two or three weeks, perhaps during high allergy seasons. But wow, they completely throw me off from anything I want to do. Can’t sleep, Can’t do anything. Love the ideas in this post. I will try the cooling suggestions and tiger balm. I had never thought of those at all. Thanks for the great information. And of course, all the best to you.
Yes, they are very debilitating! I’m sorry to hear you suffer from debilitating tension headaches! I can completely understand how they can throw you off doing anything! Definitely try the tiger balm, I find it very helpful for releasing tension in my muscles and of course, the cooling options. If you can manage it, massage has been a help for me in the past with tension in my neck and shoulders.
I hope these help you!
Love this post! I suffer from headaches more than migraines, but have had one in particular turn into a migraine! I never want it to happen again or get to that point, so these tips will definitely come in handy!
I’m sorry you suffer headaches and have sadly had a migraine, they are horrid!! I really hope some of these tips might be helpful for you! Rest, darkness and ice, they are crucial to me when I feel one coming on, hope that’s helpful 🙂
I will definitely have to remember these tips. I know a lot of migraine sufferers. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing, I hope people find them helpful!