The Migraine Hangover: Understanding and Coping with the Aftermath

Anyone who has experienced a migraine knows just how debilitating it can be. The intense pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound can completely disrupt your day and leave you feeling drained. But what many people don’t realize is that the effects of a migraine can linger long after the pain has subsided. This is known as the migraine hangover, and it can be just as disruptive as the migraine itself. In this article, we’ll explore what the migraine hangover is, how it differs from a migraine, and what you can do to manage its symptoms.

What is a Migraine Hangover?

While the term “migraine hangover” is not an official medical term, it is commonly used to describe the lingering after-effects of a migraine. These effects can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Nausea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Generalized body pain

These symptoms can occur for hours, days, or even weeks after a migraine. They can be especially frustrating because they can make it difficult to return to your normal activities, even if the pain is gone.

How is a Migraine Hangover Different from a Migraine?

One of the main differences between a migraine and a migraine hangover is the absence of pain. While a migraine can last for hours or even days, it eventually subsides, leaving the sufferer feeling exhausted but pain-free. The migraine hangover, on the other hand, is characterized by the presence of symptoms other than pain, which can be mild to severe depending on the person.

Another key difference is that a migraine hangover can be more difficult to predict than a migraine itself. While some people may experience a hangover after every migraine, others may only experience it occasionally. And while a migraine can be triggered by certain foods, stress, or other environmental factors, a hangover may occur regardless of whether any triggers are present.

What Causes a Migraine Hangover?

The exact cause of a migraine hangover is unknown, but it is thought to be related to changes in the brain and nervous system that occur during a migraine. These changes can lead to inflammation and other disruptions that can persist even after the migraine has ended. In addition, the body may be depleted of certain nutrients or chemicals that are necessary for normal functioning, which can contribute to the symptoms of a hangover.

Managing the Symptoms of a Migraine Hangover

While there is no cure for a migraine hangover, there are several things you can do to manage its symptoms:


One of the most important things you can do is get plenty of rest. The body needs time to recover after a migraine, and this can require more sleep than usual. If possible, try to take a nap or go to bed early to help your body recover.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can contribute to many of the symptoms of a hangover, so it’s important to drink plenty of water and other fluids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these can be dehydrating and can also trigger migraines in some people.

Eat Nutritious Foods

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help the body recover more quickly. Focus on foods that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and avoid processed foods and sugary snacks.

Avoid Triggers

If you know that certain foods, stress, or other factors can trigger migraines for you, try to avoid them as much as possible. This can help reduce the chances of experiencing a hangover after a migraine. You may also want to consider keeping a migraine diary to help identify your triggers.

Take Medications as Directed

If your doctor has prescribed medications for your migraines, be sure to take them as directed. This can help reduce the severity and frequency of your migraines, which can in turn reduce the chances of experiencing a hangover.

When to Seek Medical Attention

In most cases, the symptoms of a migraine hangover will subside within a few days. However, if your symptoms persist for longer than a week or are particularly severe, you should seek medical attention. Your doctor may be able to recommend additional strategies for managing your symptoms or may want to perform tests to rule out other underlying conditions.


A migraine hangover can be just as disruptive as a migraine itself, but with the proper care and management, the symptoms can be minimized. By getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, eating nutritious foods, and avoiding triggers, you can help your body recover more quickly and reduce the chances of experiencing a hangover after a migraine. If your symptoms persist, be sure to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying conditions.


FAQs about Migraine Hangover

What is a migraine hangover?

A migraine hangover, also known as postdrome, is a phase that occurs after a migraine attack. It can last up to 48 hours and is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. It is important to note that not all migraine sufferers experience postdrome.

What can trigger a migraine hangover?

The exact cause of migraine hangover is unknown, but it is believed to be related to the changes in brain chemistry that occur during a migraine attack. Factors that can trigger a migraine attack may also trigger a migraine hangover. These can include stress, certain foods, changes in sleep patterns, and hormonal changes.

How can you manage a migraine hangover?

There is no specific treatment for migraine hangover, but there are ways to manage the symptoms. Getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, avoiding triggers, and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga can help reduce the severity of symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also provide relief for headaches, but it is important to follow dosage guidelines and avoid overuse.


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