Some people who experience migraine headaches may find that vomiting helps with symptoms, particularly nausea. Vomiting could help by releasing pain-relieving chemicals or changing blood flow to relieve nausea.

Typically, migraine headaches are chronic, meaning they may keep returning in the future. A neurologist can help with nausea and other migraine symptoms.

This article will discuss what migraine headaches are, why they might cause nausea, and how vomiting could help with symptoms.

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People experiencing migraine headaches and nausea may feel some relief from vomiting. However, there has been limited research into this phenomenon.

According to a 2013 review paper, vomiting may help with migraine headache symptoms, because it:

  • changes blood flow to reduce pain or inflammation
  • releases chemicals that ease pain, such as endorphins
  • occurs toward the end of a migraine episode, leading to a reduction in symptoms

Some research supports these ideas.

For example, a 1986 study suggests that vomiting triggers the release of endogenous opioids. These are endorphins that can ease feelings of pain.

The vagus nerve is a part of the parasympathetic nervous system that also plays a role in vomiting. Vomiting could interact with the vagus nerve in a way that relieves pain.

Vagus nerve stimulation can induce vomiting and may also relieve migraine headache pain. Doctors now use vagus nerve stimulation implants to relieve pain in people who experience chronic migraine headaches.

Nausea is a common symptom of migraine headaches. A 2013 analysis found that over 90% of people with migraine headaches experience nausea and that 70% also experience vomiting.

The study suggest that experiencing nausea and vomiting with headaches is a sign that a person is at risk of migraine headaches.

However, it remains unclear why migraine headaches cause nausea. One possible explanation is that the brain activity responsible for head pain also triggers nausea.

Migraine episodes commonly occur with an aura or prodrome.

Prodrome is a phase that manifests with mood swings, food cravings, nausea, difficulty concentrating, and sensitivity to light and sound, among other health problems.

The aura phase is a period of symptoms, such as visual or auditory disturbances, before the onset of a migraine headache.

The main symptoms of a migraine headache, including feelings of nausea, usually follow the aura. In some people, the episode may end in vomiting or fatigue.

A migraine headache causes moderate to severe head pain. Doctors are unclear why some people have them. One explanation is that inflammation changes sensations in the brain to cause migraine headaches.

Different types of headaches can also cause nausea. For example, brain injuries and concussions may cause a headache and nausea. People experiencing migraine headaches should contact a doctor.

Migraine headaches are more common in females, people aged 15–55, and those with a family history of migraine headaches.

Other symptoms caused by migraine headaches may include:

  • sensitivity to sound or light
  • headaches that follow specific triggers, such as dehydration or stress
  • an intense pain on one side of the head that causes a throbbing sensation
  • headaches that last for several hours or days
  • headaches that do not respond to stretching or massage
  • changes in emotional or mental states
  • fatigue and sleepiness
  • seeing or hearing things that are not there, such as unusual lights or sounds

Lying down in a cool, dark room may help with nausea during a migraine episode. Some people may benefit from antinausea medications, such as ondansetron.

Keeping a symptom diary can help identify triggers. For example, tracking diet, exercise, and stress might help work out patterns that lead to migraine episodes.

The following treatments may help with migraine headaches:

  • over-the-counter pain medications, which may ease symptoms during an episode
  • antimigraine medications, which are useful for preventing migraine headaches
  • drugs for other conditions, such as antidepressants and beta-blockers
  • supplements
  • neuromodulation treatments, which use nerve stimulation to change brain activity and disrupt migraine headaches
  • emotional support, including therapy, to help with adjusting to living with migraine headaches

Anyone who experiences migraine headaches should speak with a doctor to rule out other causes. A doctor will also be able to help with treatment options.

A person should seek medical attention if:

  • migraine headaches stop responding to treatment
  • the symptoms during an episode worsen
  • new symptoms emerge during an episode of a migraine headache

Emergency care is necessary for anyone who experiences head pain and nausea following an injury or a blow to the head. Confusion, loss of consciousness, and hallucinations are also signs of an emergency.

Migraine headaches can cause moderate to severe head pain. They may also cause nausea and vomiting, along with other symptoms. Vomiting can relieve the symptoms of nausea in some people.

Migraine headaches are typically chronic, which means they may keep returning in the future. However, there are treatments available that can prevent migraine episodes in some people.

A neurologist can help with nausea and other migraine symptoms.