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Applying Heat or Cold for Migraine Relief
Many migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches) relieve the
pain of a migraine with the judicious application of heat or cold. This type of
pain abatement is particularly popular with people trying to minimize or
avoid prescription medication use, especially among paediatric patients and
their families.
Below are a few techniques that can help ease the pain of a migraine. Not all
techniques work for all patients. While some migraineurs find comfort in
cold, at least as many are more uncomfortable in the presence of cold. The
same is true of heat used for pain relief—for some it helps, for others it makes
the pain worse.
Apply a compress, hot or cold, to point on the head where pain is most severe.
This is frequently on the temple where a large artery runs, or in front of the
ear, another arterial locale.
For patients who feel their migraine pain “stabbing into the back of the eye” a
damp cloth (warm or cool) laid over the eyes often provides relief. As a side
benefit, covering the eyes in this manner also eases the discomfort of
photosensitivity for many patients.
Taking a hot or cold shower with the water directed at the head and neck is
another method to try, as is taking a warm (neither hot nor cold) bath. The
latter is further enhanced with the use of appropriate aromatherapy
Some patients find relief in by alternating hot and cold cloths at the point
where the migraine pain is most intense. Sometimes hot and cold used
simultaneously can ease the pain. A migraineur may apply a cold compress
on their forehead while at the same time soaking their feet in a container of
warm water.
Rarely are patients simultaneously sensitive to both hot and cold, but it
should be watched for.