Understanding Migraine Hangover

Most people would be surprised to know that migraine hangover is a real thing. But, migraineurs are all too familiar with the condition. The scientific name for the hangover is postdrome, and it starts when the attack ends. Migraine attacks can last for up to 72 hours, so postdrome syndrome can begin three days after the initial attack.

Like an alcohol hangover, postdrome causes fatigue and exhaustion. The body is winding down after an attack of epic proportions, and your brain probably feels very foggy. You may have difficulty performing simple tasks. Brain fog is a common and all too familiar term for many migraineurs.

In addition to a foggy brain, many migraineurs also experience:

  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dreariness

 

In fact, many migraineurs suffer from depression because of the postdrome phase. Research on the syndrome is scarce. Researchers started probing the issue a decade ago, and they are still learning more about migraines and its after effects. 

The Four Stages of Migraines

Migraines still mystify modern-day scientists. They haven’t been able to identify a “cure” or even a cause for migraines; however, researchers believe migraines occur in four stages:

  1. Prodrome – Linked to certain symptoms such as diarrhea and muscular discomfort before an attack. Symptoms can start a few days before the migraine.
  2. Aura– During the aura phase, the sensory system starts responding to triggers. Migraineurs feel tingling sensations in the head/neck region and may even experience vertigo. The aura stage means a migraine attack is underway.
  3. Headache– The headache phase is the actual pain portion of the migraine process. Migraineurs start to feel pain in one part of the head or all over and the pain travels to almost anywhere in the head, neck, and shoulders before the attack is over.
  4. Postdrome– The hangover phase. The body is trying to stabilize itself after the massive attack. It’s common to feel lightheaded and tired during this process. This article from com explains the phase.

 

Why Does Postdrome Occur?

As you can see, a migraine is not just a headache. It’s an attack on the body. The sensory system, brain, and other organs are duking it out during this time. Physically, it can feel like your body was hit by a freight train. All the pressure sends your body into overdrive, and, naturally, it takes time to recover.

At this point, you may have trouble speaking or concentrating on things. Remember, your central nervous system is all connected. The brain controls speech patterns and critical thinking. During the migraine, your brain was dealing with sensory overload. Now that it’s trying to recover, you will feel off balance.

Migraine Hangover Remedies

Although the postdrome phase in unavoidable, you can still try some things to help your body get back on track. Buzzfeed has an interesting list of popular migraine hangover “cures.” You can find all types of interesting advice as well as crazy remedies including Taco Bell and Slurpee. Just be careful with those suggestions, as they’re personal experiences and may not be suitable to your condition.

If you’re more on the conservative side of recovery, I have some great advice as well. One of the most important things you can do is drink water. Migraine hangovers are similar to alcohol hangovers, and your body loses electrolytes.  Water will restore vital nutrients to your body.

Here are some other remedies:

  • Sleep: Your body needs rest, especially after the trauma of a migraine. Try to get at least eight hours of rest after an attack.
  • Vitamins: In a perfect world, your diet would be able to provide you with all the vitamins and nutrients you need. Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect. You should be at least taking a multivitamin, fish oil and a probiotic regularly because they help build some of the best foundational defenses against migraine attacks.

 

Sources

  1. Postdrome-Healthcentral.com
  2. 30 Tips for Coming Back to Life After A Migraine-Buzzfeed
  3. 3 Essential Steps for Coping with Migraine Pain