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How to Ease a Migraine Hangover

One person finds that drinking icy CocaCola and eating some chocolate in the aftermath of a headache is a good way to ease a migraine hangover.

Everyone has heard about migraine headaches: the intense pain on one side of the head, the nausea, the inability to tolerate bright light or loud noises, the pulsing or throbbing nature of the pain. Some people have also heard about an aura; it often shows up as visual disturbances or tingling on the face or the arm shortly before a migraine starts. But what about after a migraine? Is there a way to ease a migraine hangover?

How Can You Ease a Migraine Hangover?

Q. Here’s a random and weird home remedy for migraine hangover. (That’s a horrid feeling after a bad migraine.)

Try ice-cold Coke and chocolate. I watched my mom do this after her migraines and now I do it after mine.

Migraine Postdrome:

A. Migraine hangover has a technical name: postdrome. It is the last phase of a severe migraine, and may include symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, upset stomach, dizziness, mood changes and weakness. There may also be some lingering head pain, though the quality of the pain is usually different from that suffered during the migraine itself.

Just as explanations for what causes a migraine headache are inconclusive, so are explanations for the migraine hangover. This makes it a bit tricky to figure out how to ease a migraine hangover.

What Is a Migraine Hangover Like?

Not all migraineurs (people who suffer migraines) experience a postdrome phenomenon, just as not all get a warning aura. But it is a common enough occurrence to have gotten some medical attention in the past decade or so (Cephalalgia, Feb., 2006). About half of the people who suffer migraines seem to have a migraine hangover. On average, it lasts about a day or so, and is most common after a severe migraine attack. The feelings of being “wiped out” and unable to concentrate contribute to the overall distress migraines can cause (Neurology, July 19, 2016).

The usual recommendations are rest and hydration. Holding off on work for at least half a day is reportedly helpful.

Comfort Food to Ease a Migraine Hangover:

Many people also indulge in comfort food. We guess the combination of caffeine and sugar from your Coke and chocolate provides the pick-me-up you describe. On the other hand, the ice-cold Coke might also be having an effect similar to that provoked by ice cream or a Slushie®. Many people have reported that consuming ice cream or an icy beverage (preferably one containing caffeine, such as a Frappuccino®) at the earliest onset of a migraine headache can abort it quickly. Presumably that also eliminates the migraine postdrome.

Some migraineurs find that chocolate triggers migraines. They would probably want to avoid it, even during postdrome.

Others find it helpful to avoid highly processed food during the postdrome and stick with their favorite fruits or vegetables. A quick look online suggests that people’s preferred treats to ease a migraine hangover vary widely. It does make sense to stick with what works for you. For more information on preventing or treating migraines with medication or nondrug alternatives, you may wish to consult our Guide to Headaches & Migraines.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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