Naproxen and Migraine-Associated Nausea: Tips for Minimizing Discomfort

As someone who has personally experienced the debilitating combination of migraine attacks and nausea, it is crucial to find effective ways to manage this discomfort during migraine attacks. Nausea can significantly worsen the already distressing symptoms of a migraine, making it difficult to carry out daily activities.

Understanding Naproxen and its Role in Migraine Treatment

Naproxen is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) commonly used in the treatment of migraine attacks. It works by reducing inflammation and blocking pain signals in the body. When taken at the onset of a migraine attack, naproxen can help alleviate migraine symptoms, including pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea.

However, it’s important to be aware of the potential side effects of naproxen, including nausea. While not everyone experiences nausea as a side effect, it is relatively common among naproxen users.

The Link Between Naproxen and Nausea

There are several reasons why nausea can occur as a side effect of naproxen use during migraine attacks. Naproxen has been shown to irritate the lining of the stomach, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and indigestion. Additionally, naproxen can cause changes in the way the stomach and intestines function, further contributing to nausea.

Factors that may increase the likelihood of nausea with naproxen use include taking the medication on an empty stomach or in higher doses than recommended. It’s essential to follow the prescribed dosage instructions and discuss any concerns or symptoms with your healthcare provider.

Tips for Minimizing Nausea While Taking Naproxen for Migraines

Taking naproxen with food or milk

One effective way to minimize nausea when taking naproxen is to consume it with food or milk. Food or milk can help protect the stomach lining and reduce irritation caused by the medication. Opt for light, non-greasy meals that are easily digestible, such as soup or toast. It’s advisable to avoid foods that may exacerbate nausea, such as spicy or fatty foods.

Example: Instead of taking naproxen on an empty stomach, try having a light breakfast with a bowl of oatmeal topped with fruits and a glass of milk before taking your medication. This can help reduce the likelihood of nausea.

Splitting the naproxen dose

Another strategy to manage nausea associated with naproxen intake is to split the recommended dose over a longer period. Instead of taking the entire dose at once, divide it into smaller portions and take them at regular intervals. This approach can help prevent a sudden overload of the medication on your stomach and minimize the likelihood of experiencing nausea.

Example: If your healthcare provider prescribes 500mg of naproxen, consider taking 250mg in the morning and the remaining 250mg in the afternoon. This method can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort and decrease the chances of experiencing nausea.

Combining naproxen with anti-nausea medications

If nausea persists despite taking naproxen with food or milk, it may be beneficial to combine the medication with anti-nausea medications. There are various over-the-counter and prescription options available that can help relieve nausea associated with migraine attacks.

Example: Discuss with your healthcare provider about the possibility of taking medications such as ondansetron or metoclopramide in conjunction with naproxen. These medications can effectively alleviate nausea and enhance the overall management of your migraine symptoms.

Adjusting the dose or switching medication

If you continue to experience severe or persistent nausea despite trying the above strategies, it may be necessary to consider alternative options. This can involve adjusting the dosage of naproxen or switching to a different medication that is better tolerated and effective for you.

Example: Consult with your healthcare provider if nausea becomes a recurrent issue. They will evaluate your specific circumstances and may recommend either modifying the dosage to a lower or more tolerable level or switching to a different medication that can provide similar benefits without causing significant nausea.

Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches to Relieve Migraine-Associated Nausea

Aside from medications, there are also non-pharmaceutical approaches that can help alleviate migraine-associated nausea.

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques

When experiencing nausea during a migraine attack, practicing deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help reduce tension and discomfort. Deep abdominal breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation are examples of techniques that can aid in managing nausea and promoting a sense of calmness.

Applying cold compresses

Placing a cold compress, such as an ice pack or a cold washcloth, on the back of your neck or forehead can provide relief from nausea. The cold temperature can help numb the area and alleviate the intensity of the symptoms.

Acupressure points to relieve nausea

There are specific acupressure points on the body that are associated with relieving nausea. Applying gentle pressure or massaging these points can help reduce the intensity of nausea. The P6 point, located on the inner side of the forearm, approximately three finger-widths above the wrist crease, is particularly effective in relieving nausea.

Combining non-pharmaceutical approaches with naproxen for enhanced relief

While non-pharmaceutical approaches may not provide immediate relief from nausea, combining these techniques with the use of naproxen can help enhance overall symptom management during migraine attacks. It’s important to explore different strategies and find the combination that works best for you.

Discussing Nausea Symptoms with a Healthcare Provider

Open communication with your healthcare provider about your experience with nausea during migraine attacks is essential. Providing detailed information about your symptoms can help in accurately assessing the severity and frequency of your nausea episodes, guiding them in developing a well-tailored treatment plan.

When discussing your symptoms, take note of the following:

  • The frequency, duration, and severity of your nausea episodes
  • The impact on your daily activities and functionality
  • The effectiveness of the strategies you have tried

By collaborating with your healthcare provider, you can work together to find the most suitable treatment options and develop a personalized plan for managing the nausea associated with your migraine attacks.


Managing nausea during migraine attacks is essential for enhancing the overall quality of life. By understanding the link between naproxen and nausea, implementing strategies such as taking naproxen with food or milk, splitting the dose, combining medications, and exploring non-pharmaceutical approaches, you can minimize the discomfort experienced during migraine attacks. Additionally, open communication with your healthcare provider allows for personalized treatment plans that address your specific needs and minimize the impact of nausea on your daily life.


Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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