Creating the Perfect Migraine Emergency Kit

What to pack for your emergency kit  

Migraine relief emergency kit


You never know when a migraine will strike, especially if sudden glare or bright light is a trigger for you. 

But what to pack? You don’t want to cart a suitcase around everywhere you go, and yet migraine can need different types of treatment depending on its severity and individual symptoms.Because it can be so unpredictable (even after years of suffering and diligently keeping your diary), having an emergency kit with you at all times is a necessity.

Here’s what you should include in your kit, and some thoughts on alternatives you could also try:

Everyday Emergency Kits

  • Preventive and Abortive Medications: Carry as much medication as you need for the length of time you’ll be away from home, taking either over the counter medications you know work, or those your doctor prescribed.
  • Your Migraine Diary: You don’t have to carry a weighty notebook around all the time since there are free smart phone apps that allow you to make quick notes on the fly. It’s better to do this and keep a note of symptoms and circumstances, than to miss noting down something that might prove valuable in the future.
  • Water: Migraine sufferers are more prone to dehydration but, aside from that consideration, you may also need water to help you swallow tablets. In a pinch, it could also help to cool your temples and forehead.
  • Cold Compress: Easy-activation cold therapy packs are a fine alternative to carrying ice packs or washcloths that need dampening. Localized heat also helps some people and if you’re one of them, a reusable snap heater could prove invaluable.
  • Dark Sunglasses and Earplugs: Very dark sunglasses can be the next best thing to lying down in a darkened room. If you’re sensitive to bright, or even normal, light levels during a migraine attack, dark sunglasses can be very soothing. Around bright flashing lights glasses could also be used in a preventive capacity. The earplugs speak for themselves. Soft foam ones are very small and easy to carry, quick to fit, and effective.  They won’t deafen you completely but they will muffle enough sound to bring you relief.
  • An Air Sickness Bag: This is small, light, and easy to pop into the tiniest wallet or purse. If nausea and sickness feature as part of your migraine pattern, it can save a lot of embarrassment.

Additions to Consider

As well as the more standard components of an emergency migraine kit, some people find these to be useful additions:

  • Essential Oils: Some migraine patients discover that applying essential oils to the temples or forehead can help. Lavender, peppermint or chamomile are examples of some of the scents commonly used to bring relief. They are often available in travel size sticks making them small, light and convenient to use.
  • A Cefaly Device: the Cefaly device is like a headband worn across the forehead that sends tiny electrical impulses to the nerves associated with migraine. It is a lightweight device although it does need regular use to be effective so shouldn’t be considered as something to use in place of regular medication. It could, however, be a useful item to take on travels or vacations if you have previously found it reduces the severity or frequency of attacks.
  • An Emergency Card: In the event of a severe attack that incapacitates you, or just in case you’re involved in any other kind of accident, having an emergency card complete with relevant contact information can help those around you get the help you need. Include phone numbers of headache specialists or migraine clinics that have treated you along with pharmacies that could advise on medication. Also, include contact numbers of family or close friends who could rescue you in an emergency.


Swap Things Around

Minimize how much you carry by streamlining your emergency kit according to where you’re going and maybe the time of year. For instance, it could be sensible to carry more water on hot, summer days. If you’re going to the library or art gallery, you probably won’t need earplugs, and sunglasses can probably be excluded for evenings out, (although if there are flashing lights they may prove helpful even then). Knowing your migraine patterns and triggers, and building your kit accordingly, is the best way of making sure you have what you need.

Also, keep an eye on best-before dates and replenish any of your medications that have expired.

Over time, all migraine sufferers develop their own set of medications and preventive strategies, so what you include in your emergency kit will be largely a matter of personal preference. What is important is that you have a kit of some kind and remember to take it with you. The time you leave it at home will be the time you most need it.

Dr. Mark Khorsandi works at the Migraine Relief Center. They provide surgical treatments in the USA that reduce and eliminate pain for migraine sufferers.


For information on all aspects of migraine, email Migraine Action at info@migraine.org.uk or call us weekdays from 10am to 4pm on 08456 011 033. 

Until theres a cure, we are here to help you get control 

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