There are many treatments and medications available to those who suffer from migraines. The important first step to finding relief is to receive a diagnosis of migraines from your doctor or medical health professional. After the diagnosis is made a treatment plan can be devised based on your symptoms.
There are two categories of medications that are typically a part of most treatment plans for those who suffer from migraines. These categories are pain-relieving drugs and preventative medications. Pain-relieving drugs are used to abort the acute type of headaches are taken while a migraine attack is already in progress. The purpose of these drugs is to stop or at least minimize the symptoms you experience during a migraine attack.
Preventative medications are part of the treatment plan that involves a strategy to manage the frequency or severity of your migraines. The hope is that by managing the frequency and severity of your symptoms you will be able to control the debilitating nature of your migraine attacks and thus function better at work, school or in your normal daily routine.
Doctors usually include this preventive program of medications if patients experience two or more attacks a month in which they are not able to function normally because of the migraine attacks. Patients who use pain-relieving drugs more than twice a week are usually good candidates for preventative medications.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and certain children are not advised to take certain medications and should always be under the care of a physician or other healthcare professional when medicating for migraines or other medical conditions or diseases.
Your doctor will help to determine which category of drug treatment is best for you based on your symptoms and your history of medications taken to date and whether or not they brought you relief.
Commonly used pain-relieving drugs:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Triptans (Imitrex, Amerge, Zomig, Frova, Relpax)
Ergots are less expensive than triptans but also less effective, than triptans. A derivative ergot that has been shown to be more effective than ergotamine (ergomar) is dihydroergotamine.
Anti-nausea medications - oral or rectal
Butalbital medications that are combinations of aspirin and acetaminophen or contain caffeine or codeine along with other pain relievers. These preparations have a high risk for the patient experiencing rebound headaches and should therefore be used sparingly.
Opiates are preparations that contain narcotics, especially codeine are used when individuals suffer from intense migraines and are unable to take triptans or ergots. Opiates are habit-forming and should only be used under a doctor’s care and are to be used only when all other pain-relieving medications have failed to bring relief.
Cardiovascular drugs such as beta blockers
Cyproheptadine, which is an antihistamine
Botulinum toxin type A (Botox)
Non-medicated treatments include using a chiropractor, biofeedback, acupuncture, aromatherapy, myotherapy, nutritional treatment to eliminate food sensitivity, and also psychology therapy.
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