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What Do Doctors Give You For Migraines

Cgrp Receptor Antagonists For Prevention

When To Consult A Doctor About Headaches

The first two CGRP receptor antagonists to come on the market in the United States, Nurtec and Ubrelvy, were initially approved for acute treatment of migraine. However, Nurtec ODT was subsequently approved to also be used as a preventive treatment for episodic migraine.

A third oral CGRP receptor antagonist, Qulipta , received FDA approval in September 2021 only as a preventive medication for episodic migraine. The drug is taken once daily and is available in three strengths: 10 mg, 30 mg, and 60 mg.

The New England Journal of Medicine

Common side effects of Qulipta include constipation, nausea, and fatigue.

Dealing With Nausea And Vomiting

Migraine attacks may cause a feeling of sickness or cause you to actually be sick . The nausea makes it harder for your body to absorb migraine tablets into your body. If you take painkillers, they may remain in your stomach and not work well if you feel sick. You may even vomit the tablets back. Tips that may help include:

  • Use soluble painkillers. These are absorbed more quickly from your stomach and are likely to work better.
  • As mentioned, one brand of diclofenac comes as a suppository. This may be useful if you usually vomit with a migraine.
  • You can take an anti-sickness medicine in addition to painkillers. A doctor may prescribe one – for example, domperidone, prochlorperazine or metoclopramide.
  • Like painkillers, anti-sickness medicines work best if you take them as soon as possible after symptoms begin.
  • An anti-sickness medicine, domperidone, is available as a suppository if you feel very sick or vomit during migraine attacks.
  • Prochlorperazine comes in a buccal form which dissolves between the gum and cheek. This can be useful if you feel sick and do not wish to swallow a tablet.

When To Seek Care

If you deal with migraines, it’s helpful to know that there are solutions if they ever get so bad as to warrant emergency care. But knowing when to seek that level of medical attention is important.

If you would describe your pain as your worst migraine attack ever, you should consider heading to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, advises the National Headache Foundation .

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What Kind Of Doctor Treats Headaches

There are several different types of headache specialists, each with its area of expertise. Neurologists are often considered headache specialists because they have extensive training in conditions that affect the nervous system. Whats more, neurologists focus on diagnosing and treating neurological problems caused by tumors or structural abnormalities. These vascular disorders impact how blood flows through the brain, infections like meningitis, and inflammatory diseases like lupus or multiple sclerosis.

If a patient has distinct symptoms related to nerves or muscles in their head, they may see an otolaryngologist specializing in problems with the ears, nose, and throat. Your primary care physician should determine what kind of doctor treats headaches, who can help you choose the best specialist for your particular case.

What Are The Four Stages Or Phases Of A Migraine Whats The Timeline

What Causes Migraines?

The four stages in chronological order are the prodrome , aura, headache and postdrome. About 30% of people experience symptoms before their headache starts.

The phases are:

  • Prodrome: The first stage lasts a few hours, or it can last days. You may or may not experience it as it may not happen every time. Some know it as the preheadache or premonitory phase.
  • Aura: The aura phase can last as long as 60 minutes or as little as five. Most people dont experience an aura, and some have both the aura and the headache at the same time.
  • Headache: About four hours to 72 hours is how long the headache lasts. The word ache doesnt do the pain justice because sometimes its mild, but usually, its described as drilling, throbbing or you may feel the sensation of an icepick in your head. Typically it starts on one side of your head and then spreads to the other side.
  • Postdrome: The postdrome stage goes on for a day or two. Its often called a migraine hangover and 80% of those who have migraines experience it.
  • It can take about eight to 72 hours to go through the four stages.

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    Are Headaches A Sign Of Covid

    Headaches can be typical conditions for many, whether they are associated with allergies, stress, lack of sleep, eye strain, or many other common causes. Due to this, headaches may be overlooked and not taken as seriously as they should.

    Although not mentioned as much as the loss of smell and taste, headaches can also be early symptoms of COVID-19 for all age groups, with headaches being less common in children.

    The headaches tend to start at the beginning of the illness.

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    Data and research continue to determine why headaches are a cause of COVID, but like any other respiratory infection, the link between headaches and COVID is not that uncommon.

    Some medical specialists suggest that another theory may be that fluid enters around the brain, possibly triggering a headache in COVID patients.

    In addition, dehydration or hunger as a result of eating and drinking habits changing while dealing with COVID can be culprits.

    Persistent headaches also appear to occur in those who have previously had COVID, also known as post-COVID headaches.

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    What Will This Summary Cover

    This summary will cover:

    • Medicines to treat severe migraines in the ER
    • What researchers have found about how well the medicines work
    • Possible side effects of the medicines
    • Things to talk about with the ER doctor

    Note: This summary does not cover what researchers found about treating migraines at home or ways to prevent migraines. It only covers what researchers found about treating migraines in the ER.

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    How Are Migraines Diagnosed

    To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

    • Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
    • Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
    • Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
    • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
    • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
    • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
    • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
    • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
    • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.

    Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An electroencephalogram may be ordered to rule out seizures.

    Where Does The Information Come From

    When to see a neurologist for headaches or migraines

    Researchers reviewed studies on medicines to treat migraines in the ER. These studies were published through January 2012. The researchers were funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality , a Federal Government research agency.

    The researchers wrote a report on what they found, and this summary is based on that report. The report was reviewed by doctors, researchers, other experts, and the public. You can read the report at

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    Acute Migraine Headache: Treatment Strategies

    LAURA MAYANS, MD, MPH, and ANNE WALLING, MB, ChB, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, Kansas

    Am Fam Physician. 2018 Feb 15 97:243-251.

    Patient information: A handout on this topic is available at .

    Migraine is a primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent attacks. Acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, triptans, antiemetics, ergot alkaloids, and combination analgesics have evidence supporting their effectiveness in the treatment of migraine. Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are first-line treatments for mild to moderate migraines, whereas triptans are first-line treatments for moderate to severe migraines. Although triptans are effective, they may be expensive. Other medications such as dihydroergotamine and antiemetics are recommended for use as second- or third-line therapy for select patients or for those with refractory migraine. The pharmacologic properties, potential adverse effects, cost, and routes of administration vary widely, allowing therapy to be individualized based on the pattern and severity of attacks. Several treatment principles, including taking medication early in an attack and using a stratified treatment approach, can help ensure that migraine treatment is cost-effective.



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    What Are The Symptoms Of A Migraine

    Individual migraines are moderate to severe in intensity, often characterized by a throbbing or pounding feeling. Although they are frequently one-sided, they may occur anywhere on the head, neck and face or all over. At their worst, they are typically associated with sensitivity to light, noise and/or smells. Nausea is one of the most common symptoms and it worsens with activity, which often results in patient disability. In many respects, migraines are much like alcohol-related hangovers.

    Migraine pain can be felt in the face, where it may be mistaken for sinus headache or in the neck, where it may be mistaken for arthritis or muscle spasm. Complicating the diagnosis of migraine is that the headaches may be accompanied by other “sinus like” symptoms, including watering eyes, nasal congestion and a sense of facial pressure. Most patients who think they have sinus headache in fact have migraines.

    In up to 25 percent of patients, the migraine headache pain may be preceded by an aura, a temporary neurological syndrome that slowly progresses and then typically resolves just as the pain begins. While the most common type of migraine aura involves visual disturbances , many people experience numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, vertigo and other strokelike neurological symptoms. Some patients may experience auras without headaches.

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    What Causes Chronic Migraine

    Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear what causes chronic migrainesor migraines in general. But there are a few theories as to what could be behind them. According to the Mayo Clinic, they include:

    • family history/genetic predisposition

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    What Can Cause A Migraine

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    Doctors are not sure what exactly causes migraines. But, many things can trigger a migraine. Different people have different triggers, which can include:

    • Stress or anxiety
    • Changes in hormones
    • Bright lights, loud sounds, and strong smells
    • Smoking
    • Certain foods, such as chocolate, cheese, salty foods, or processed foods
    • Food additives such as MSG or aspartame
    • Not getting enough to eat
    • Not getting enough sleep
    • Some medicines

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    Who’s At Risk For Chronic Migraine

    Some people are more likely than others to develop chronic migraines. You cannot change certain risk factors, while others may be modifiable. They include:

    Family history. If one or both of your parents has migraines, you have a 50-75% chance of developing them, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

    Age. Migraines can start at any ageas young as adolescencebut they’re often worst in your 30s before becoming less frequent and severe, says the Mayo Clinic.

    Sex. Women get the short end of the stick herethey’re three times more likely than men to get migraines, the Mayo Clinic points out.

    Certain medical conditions. The American Migraine Foundation lists depression, anxiety, obesity, and snoring among a number of conditions associated a greater likelihood of having migraine episodes that can lead to chronic migraines.

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    Migraine Home Remedies And Lifestyle Measures

    There are several things you can do on your own that may help relieve your migraine symptoms once an attack has started, including:

    • Applying hot or cold compresses to your head and neck may help, notes the Mayo Clinic.
    • Taking a warm shower or bath can have a similar effect to hot compresses.
    • Resting in a dark, quiet room can also help if you feel a migraine attack coming on.
    • Meditating or doing yoga may help to reduce symptoms and can also help to prevent attacks when done regularly.

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    What Drugs Are Good For Migraines

    If you have migraine attacks, try one of the drugs listed below. They all work best if you use them when the migraine is just beginning.

  • Start with a non-prescription pain drug that combines aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine . Or try non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen .
  • If these drugs do not help, or your headaches are more severe, try one of the prescription migraine drugs called triptans, such as sumatriptan .
  • If triptans do not work, try dihydroergotamine nasal spray . This drug works even better as an injection . You or your doctor can do the injection.
  • If you have migraines often, or if they are very severe, ask your doctor about drugs to prevent headaches.

    How Long Should A Headache Last Before Seeing A Doctor

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    If your headache is starting, its probably not necessary to call up your doctor. Minor headaches that last less than two hours can often be cured with rest or pain relievers like Tylenol or Advil. However, if the pain lasts for more than two hours, you may want to see a doctor before going home for the day. Whats more, if your headache is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, memory loss, fever, or clouded vision, getting checked out is especially important.

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    Treatment Approaches In The Er

    The treatment you might receive in a hospital emergency department for a migraine headache will be based, for the most part, on your symptoms and personal health history. In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all fix.

    However, there are standards and recommendations. For one thing, medications given in the ER for migraine headache are typically administered parenterallyin some way other than by mouth, including by subcutaneous injection , intramuscularly , and intravenously .

    These methods allow medications to work more quickly in the body, and they are more effective for someone who’s experiencing so much nausea and/or vomiting that keeping down a pill is almost impossible. Many people are also given fluids via IV to prevent dehydration.

    In 2016, the American Headache Society put together a panel of experts to review clinical trials of the many diverse medications used in emergency settings to treat migraines in adults to determine which truly work best and are safest. The panel considered studies of 28 different medications to come up with recommendations for the acute treatment of migraines in adults.

    What Doctor Treats Headaches

    According to the American Headache Society , neurologists are some of the most qualified doctors to treat headaches. Your primary care doctor can guide you to the appropriate specialist. Whats more, your internist may refer you to a headache specialist if the pain is persistent or has no clear cause. Because sinus issues sometimes cause headaches, some headache patients see an ENT doctor for treatment. But this isnt always necessary because these conditions are vastly different. For example, a sinus infection would be accompanied by other symptoms like nasal congestion, whereas most headaches are not.

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    Sumatriptan May Cause Side Effects Tell Your Doctor If Any Of These Symptoms Are Severe Or Do Not Go Away:

    • pain or redness at the site of injection
    • flushing
    • pain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
    • seizures
    • changes in vision

    If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone .

    You’re Not Exactly Fine When You Leave

    Headaches and Migraines: Causes and Risk Factors

    In absence of a cure for Migraine, you’re going to get medication. And lots of it. Enough to knock out a horse. Better not make plans for tomorrow that’s time for your Migraine hangover, aka postdrome.

    “They give you “abortive meds.” Knock you out, send you home. Then you’re in a medicated induced coma for the rest of the day. Then you wake up the next day still having the same migraine.” Jaselle H.

    “Shot me up with meds so strong I couldn’t even move.” Victoria S.

    “Last time I was in the ER for a migraine they gave me the wrong meds which were too strong for me and I had a heart attack!! I went thinking they would make me better but instead it only made it worse!!” Jessica A.

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    Some Drugs Should Rarely Be Used

    Migraine attacks can last for hoursor even days. They can cause intense pain, nausea, and vomiting. They can make you sensitive to light or noise, and they can affect your life and work.

    To treat migraines, you may get a prescription for an opioid or a barbiturate called butalbital. These are pain medicines. But you should think twice about using these drugs. Heres why:

    Medication For The Acute Treatment Of Migraines

    Acute or rescue medications are taken during a migraine attack ideally before symptoms have gotten severe to help lessen the severity and duration of symptoms, including pain, nausea, and vomiting.

    For some people with migraine, over-the-counter pain relievers are sufficient to treat migraine attacks, but for many others, prescription drugs are needed for adequate relief.

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    Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided

    Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.

    Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.

    There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.


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