So, you’re here for the migraine cocktails? Hate to break it to you, but there’s no alternate reality in which pretty sips with cute
A migraine cocktail isn’t a cocktail at all. It’s a professionally mixed med combo designed to relieve severe migraine symptoms.
Intrigued? Let’s dive into the ingredients and side effects and then consider other methods of migraine relief.
If your throbbing head, distorted vision, and nausea land you in the ER, you might receive a migraine cocktail. It’s a common treatment option offered for acute, unrelenting, I’ll-do-anything-to-get-out-of-this migraine attacks.
Often administered intravenously (IV), these “cocktails” are crafted with a specific blend of meds to soothe your most severe symptoms. The emergency team might pump steroids, NSAIDs, and other prescription-infused fluids into your arm until you start to feel sweet, sweet relief.
For instance, you could receive an IV combo of:
PSA: Research on Benadryl’s effect on migraine is pretty inconclusive. It’s a common “cocktail” ingredient, but there’s little significant proof that it matters.
Other key info:
Little ones can experience migraine attacks just like adults. Researchers say up to 18 percent of young people who wind up the ER are there because of a migraine.
And guess what? The same meds used in a grown-up migraine cocktail can help relieve kids’ migraine attacks. Yay! Fun for the whole family!
Just make sure you tell the ER doc about your child’s health history and underlying conditions before suggesting a migraine cocktail. And of course, rely on the doctor’s judgment for the best treatment(s) and dose to help your little one find relief.
When we talk about migraine cocktails, we’re usually referring to the IV infusion you get in the ER for a severe migraine attack.
Still, an over-the-counter (OTC) trio of meds is available to help combat killer headaches:
Some research from the early 2000s suggests that taking these three meds at the same time can relieve more migraine symptoms than taking just one pain reliever.
The research might be older (Smash Mouth were still cutting-edge back then), but the pills’ effects on your body remain the same (hey, now — it’s still an all-star).
Basically, the aspirin soothes inflammation while the acetaminophen reduces pain and the caffeine narrows your blood vessels, which helps chill out your throbbin’ noggin.
Pill popping is nothing to be casual about. It’s always best to consult your doc before combining medications or dosing on OTC caffeine. You might end up with a mess of unwanted side effects.
In general, check the med’s label to figure out which ingredients are active (aim for the three above) and run the combo past your doctor before trying it.
Like any other medication, most ingredients in a migraine cocktail can cause adverse effects. Here are the possible side effects based on what the doctor orders.
Side effects, known as “triptan sensations,” include:
These can have unintended side effects, including:
Possible side effects include:
NSAIDs can mess with your gastric lining and cause:
If you’re an older adult or have underlying kidney issues, it’s best to skip NSAIDs — they could cause you some serious problems.
Depending on the steroid, a high dose might cause:
Based on the ingredients (acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and caffeine), an OTC migraine cocktail might lead to:
This is definitely something you should ask your doctor or healthcare team. They’ll use your health history and current health status to figure out which med mix is safest (and most effective!) for you.
Oh, and those OTC migraine cocktails? They’re *not* safe for everyone. Avoid OTC blends of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine if any of these apply to you:
Good news! Migraine cocktails are *not* the only way to hand an eviction notice to your pain.
If your headache is just revving up, you might be able to stomp it out with mild OTC meds like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDs (ibuprofen or aspirin).
Any single ingredient used in a migraine cocktail might be enough to soothe your pain on its own. A few solo meds that might help:
You can also take preventive measures against chronic migraine:
Natural remedies probably won’t fix a migraine attack that’s been waging war on you for days, but they may nip one in the bud early on.
Some of these tricks soothe pain, while others may help prevent it from starting in the first place. Either way, it’s best to try to address a migraine attack before you end up in the ER receiving cocktails of drugs:
Talk with your doctor before adding new supplements to your routine, since they could interfere with your prescription meds or underlying health conditions. #BetterSafeThanSorry
A migraine cocktail is not a drink. It’s a medley of medications used to treat severe migraine symptoms.
You generally get a migraine cocktail via IV at the ER. But it *is* possible to combine three OTC products — aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine — for a milder treatment. Like any other medications, these may have side effects.
Some lifestyle changes and natural remedies might also help relieve migraine pain.
If you live with severe or chronic migraine, talk with your doctor. Only a medical professional can determine the best cocktail of treatments and medications that will work for you.
Last medically reviewed on March 29, 2021