A migraine is a serious chronic condition where a person has a severe headache lasting anywhere from hours to days. It can be felt on either side of the head, temples, and even behind the eyes and ears. They generally do not come on suddenly – most will have warning signs like seeing spots (auras) or having a tingling feeling. Migraine sufferers have to deal with plenty of symptoms in addition to a debilitating headache. Over one-third of migraine sufferers experience sudden nausea and vomiting.
So why do so many people feel nauseated with their migraines? Why do people get migraines in the first place? The answer to both of these questions is the same: we do not know! However, here are a few theories:
- When someone has low serotonin levels in their brain, blood vessels swell up starting the migraine in the first place. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to nausea.
- Women are known to get more migraines than men. Scientists are looking into the idea that nausea associated with migraines in women could have to do with changing estrogen levels.
- High blood pressure experienced during migraines could cause vomiting, as a side effect of hypertension is nausea. However, the relationship between high blood pressure and migraines is still being investigated.
These are just a few theories as to why people vomit during migraines and no one theory is more likely than the other. Testing these answers, or even coming up with a new hypothesis altogether, could take several years of research.
It can be difficult to take migraine medication if the patient will vomit it up, and the pain is often worse enough without the addition of vomiting. If you experience nausea with your migraine, here are a few ways you can help.
Ginger is a go-to herb that is available in the pharmacy section of most grocery stores. It can be taken as a pill or, more commonly, in the form on ginger ale. Flat sodas like 7-UP can help ease the stomach as well, but start off with slow sips so you do not aggravate your stomach more with the presence of a lot of liquid at once. The same rule applies for easy-to-eat foods like salted crackers or bananas.