Packing a Migraine 'Go Bag'

B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
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It may seem like a no brainer if you have to head to the ER with a migraine attack, but what you bring with you not only can make a difference in your care but also your comfort while you wait to be seen. Check out these tips on what to bring in your emergency room “go bag.”


Current medications

Most of the time it can be really hard to bring all of your current medications with you to every ER trip. If you are able to do that, great. But if you can’t then at least keep an updated list of all of your prescriptions, supplements, and doses with you in your go bag. Be sure to keep the list updated, as prescriptions change. You don’t want to find yourself trying to remember that information in the middle of a migraine attack.


Insurance information

Most people carry their medical insurance information with them. If you don’t, you should. Make sure to keep the insurance cards updated. If you or your child have supplemental insurance (for example, our girls have TEFRA) be sure to bring those cards along, as well.


Ways to quiet the noise

My daughter is the one with the most frequent migraine attacks in our home. We often find ourselves in the Children’s ER to treat status migrainous. When this happens, we can spend quite a bit of time in a noisy ER waiting room. Bringing something like ear buds, sound blocking earphones, or earplugs can help limit the noise while you wait.


Ice pack

An ice pack on the back of the neck or on the head can often be really helpful for our daughter when she has a migraine attack. Be sure to pack one or two in a freezer chest or cooler to help keep comfortable while waiting for the treatment to work.



This is one thing that I almost never carry: cash. But after our first trip to the Children’s ER I realized it was one of the things that I needed most. If you end up at the hospital for a while you may need to grab drinks or snacks from the vending machine. Not only will you need cash but be sure to have enough one dollar bills to make any trips to the vending machine easy.



For the same reason you need cash for the vending machine, think about bringing snacks. This is especially true for anyone with dietary restrictions or if you are coming from a long distance and may be missing a meal time. That way you are prepared, just in case you need to nosh on the go.


Something to keep busy

Puzzles, electronics, and other things to keep you or the person with the migraine attack distracted can be helpful. With a severe migraine attack the person may not be able to do any of those things until the medications start working. But they can be helpful for the caregiver, too.



Make sure that you have duplicates of all chargers needed for any device you bring to the ER. If you end up spending an extended amount of time in the ER it is likely that your device will die. After our last trip, where I forgot my phone charger, I always remember to keep at least one extra charger in our go bag.


Quick change of clothes and toiletries

A "go bag" should always include a change of clothing, toiletries, and any necessities if you end up having to stay the night, or your child’s migraine attack causes her to throw up on herself. Having these backups can make these tough situations a little bit easier.