Nausea and vomiting are common migraine symptoms. Prescription medications, alternative treatments, and home remedies can all help relieve them.
Many people experience nausea as a symptom of migraine. Nausea can occur before, during, or after a migraine attack. In some cases, the nausea is so severe it can lead to vomiting.
Although nausea is a common symptom, migraine episode symptoms can vary from person to person.
In this article, we explore the relationship between migraine and nausea, treatments for migraine-related nausea, how to prevent migraine, and when to speak with a doctor about migraine.
Nausea is a common symptom of migraine attacks.
According to a 2019 study involving 6,045 participants living with migraine,
Migraine has four stages:
- prodrome, or premonitory
Prodrome is the period before a migraine headache begins. This phase can last anywhere from
The headache stage can last 4–72 hours. Some people experience aura between the prodrome and headache stages.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, nausea can occur during the prodrome and headache stages of migraine.
However, some people experience nausea during all stages of migraine.
A small 2012 study involving 267 people with migraine found that
Researchers do not yet know for certain what causes migraine or why nausea can be a symptom of migraine.
According to a
The central nervous system handles the body’s autonomic — or involuntary — functions, including digestion and heart rate. Nausea and vomiting can signify a change in the autonomic system’s functioning.
People who experience nausea during migraine attacks can ask a healthcare professional about prescription treatments for migraine and migraine-related nausea.
Some people may also find relief from home remedies and complementary therapies.
A doctor may prescribe the following antiemetics alongside other medications for migraine to help with nausea and vomiting.
Antiemetics are available in the form of:
- nasal sprays
- sublingual tablets, which dissolve under the tongue
Aromatherapy is a form of complementary scent therapy involving plant extracts and essential oils to enhance well-being.
Some evidence suggests peppermint essential oil may help relieve nausea.
One small 2020 study looked at the effects of peppermint oil on chemotherapy-related nausea. The researcher split 80 participants into two groups. One group used peppermint oil three times daily for 5 days with antiemetic medications. The other group used only antiemetics.
Researchers found that those who used both antiemetic and peppermint oil had fewer episodes of nausea and vomiting.
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine practice. It involves using gentle pressure to stimulate specific points on the body.
Acupressure may help relieve migraine pain in some people.
Ginger is a popular home remedy for nausea.
Some evidence suggests that it can help with nausea due to migraine and may also relieve other symptoms of migraine.
The authors of a small 2020 review of studies suggest that ginger is a safe and effective natural pain and nausea reliever for migraine.
The following treatments can help prevent the frequency of migraine attacks and, in turn, migraine-related nausea:
- Lifestyle modifications: The SEEDS method, which involves focusing on sleeping, getting regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, keeping a headache diary, and practicing stress management techniques, may also help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
- Avoiding triggers: Keeping a migraine diary can help a person identify and avoid migraine triggers, such as specific foods or environmental factors.
- Medications: Preventive migraine treatments can help prevent migraine attacks. These treatments include antidepressants, antiseizure medications, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and other pain medications, such as erenumab and rimegepant. Additionally, preventive treatments, such as triptans, can help stop a migraine attack.
- Alternative treatments: Some people may find it helpful to include wellness practices, such as yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises, into their migraine treatment routine.
It is important to seek medical care from a doctor if a person is experiencing:
- what feels like a first migraine episode
- unusual migraine symptoms
- severe symptoms
- symptoms worsening
If any of the following occur, a person should call 911 or seek immediate medical attention:
- unusually severe migraine headache
- disturbed vision
- loss of sensation
- trouble speaking
The above symptoms could be signs of a stroke.
Headache and migraine resources
To discover more evidence-based information and resources for headaches and migraine, visit our dedicated hub.
Nausea is a relatively common symptom of migraine attacks. For some people, it can also lead to vomiting.
There is no cure for migraine, though medications, such as antiemetics, can relieve nausea and vomiting.
Additionally, medications, alternative therapies, and lifestyle changes may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
If a person thinks they may be experiencing a migraine attack for the first time or has symptoms such as vision changes, very severe headache, or trouble speaking, they should seek urgent medical care.