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What Medicine To Take When You Have A Migraine

Preventive Therapy For Headaches

Treating Migraine

How does preventive therapy work?

Some people take daily medications to prevent headaches. In many cases, researchers developed these medications for other medical conditions. But they discovered that the drugs also help headaches. These medications wont cure headaches. However, they can reduce the frequency, duration and severity of headache attacks.

Preventive medications can be either OTC or prescription. While these drugs are not habit-forming, they may cause unpleasant side effects. Your healthcare provider will work with you to regulate the dosage. The goal is to maximize headache relief and minimize side effects.

Should I consider preventive therapy?

If you use symptomatic relief or abortive therapies more than twice a week, talk to your healthcare provider about daily preventive therapy. In addition, try other forms of headache treatment to decrease your headache attacks, such as:

  • Adequate hydration .
  • Dietary changes.

What should I expect when taking preventive headache medications?

You need to take preventive medicines one or more times a day. Stick to your medication regimen, and dont skip a day. You may find that you need to switch medications and change dosages until you figure out the right solution for you.

Can I ever stop taking preventive medications?

Can children take preventive therapies?

The FDA has not approved preventive therapies for use in children. Talk to your childs healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for any headaches.

Which Treatment Is Right For You

When deciding on preventive therapies, it is important to review with your doctor several important management principles:

Ask your physician what you can expect from the medication regarding its efficacy. In other words, as What is the benefit likely to be for me when I take this medication?

Low doses are used at first and gradually increased to higher doses as needed. Therefore, you may need to increase medication dose until the desired response is achieved.

Lower dosing frequency is often convenient, however, some medications may need to be taken twice or even three or four times a day. Discuss the dosing frequency of the medications and make sure the plan is convenient and easy to follow. Otherwise, you may not take the medication as prescribed and the efficacy benefits may not be achieved.

It may take two to three months before you notice a decrease in the frequency or severity of attacks even after reaching the beneficial dose.

Treatment may be required for six to twelve months or longer.

All medications have potential side effects so any unusual symptoms should be reported to your physician. It is important to discuss potential side effects and how they may be avoided or treated if they appear. Different medications have different safety and costs factors and these may play a factor in deciding which medication is right for you.

I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated

Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.

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Reason #: Out Of Pocket Cost

Like a lot of drugs, the cost of triptans can add up. Luckily, many are available as a generic drug, and the generic version is almost always cheaper. Talk to your doctor about generic triptans. If your migraines are frequent enough, you might want to explore your preventative options so you can rely less on costly abortive meds.

“At $25.00 a pill for the generic, I can’t afford to waste them. The first time I used one was about a month ago – worked like a charm! Migraine for me is usually aura for several hours almost daily. Only when the barometer is fluctuating rapidly or it is extremely humid do I get full blown migraine.” – Marla Horosko Strachan


Depending on your health care plan, generic sumatriptan tablets are often as little as $5 out of pocket cost for nine pills. See the relative cost of each type of triptan here.

Treating Migraine Headaches: Some Drugs Should Rarely Be Used

Can You Take Migraine Medicine For A Headache

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 be given a prescription for an opioid or a barbiturate called butalbital. These are pain medicines. But you should think twice about using these drugs for migraine. Heres why:

These drugs can make headaches worse.

Using too much pain medicine can lead to a condition called medication overuse headache . Two kinds of pain medicine are more likely to cause MOH:

  • Drugs containing opioidssuch as codeine , morphine , Hycodan or oxycodone .
  • Drugs containing butalbital .

They are not as effective as other migraine drugs.

There are other drugs that can reduce the number of migraines you have and how severe they arebetter than opioids and butalbital. Even in the emergency roomwhere people with severe migraines often ask for opioidsbetter drugs are available, including triptans.

They have risks.

Opioids and butalbital can cause serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them suddenly. People who use high doses for a long time may need to be in the hospital in order to stop using them.

Opioids, even at low doses, can make you feel sleepy or dizzy. Other side effects include constipation and nausea. Using them for a long time can lower your sex drive and cause depression and sleep problems.

Which drugs are good for migraines?

Limit the use of all pain medicines.

Read Also: Seizure Meds For Migraines

Are Migraine Headaches More Common In Women Than Men

Yes. About three out of four people who have migraines are women. Migraines are most common in women between the ages of 20 and 45. At this time of life women often have more job, family, and social duties. Women tend to report more painful and longer lasting headaches and more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. All these factors make it hard for a woman to fulfill her roles at work and at home when migraine strikes.

Im Worried About The Astrazeneca Vaccine And Risk Of Blood Clots

Understandably, a lot of people are worried following the recent information around the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots. Currently there is no specific data into migraine and the Covid-19 vaccines . People should follow the latest guidance. If you are worried about the vaccine you should speak to your GP about your individual situation and to discuss any concerns you have.

Generally, even with the latest data and updates the consensus is the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The EMA concluded that the vaccine isnt associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots in people who have it. However, there may be an association with very rare types of blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets . These are extremely rare and the MHRA has concluded the evidence of a link with the AstraZeneca vaccine is stronger than it was, but there is still more work and data needed.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates.

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How Do I Know If Otc Medications Are Right For Me

Its always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider about any medicines you are taking, even those that are OTC. You may have other conditions that affect whether these medicines are right for you. The following chart can provide some clues as to whether or not OTC medications are right for you.

Probably okay to use*

Make Sure Youve Gotten The Recommended Vaccinations

Reyvow / lasmiditan for Migraine – What YOU Need to Know

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza is very important, because both vaccines can offer protection against getting severe disease, says Hamilton.

We also know that COVID-19 can lead to significant worsening or development of new headaches, which can persist well beyond the acute phase of the infection. The vaccine is an important part of preventing this type of headache, as well as all the other symptoms and potential complications, she says.

If you are due for a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or if you havent gotten your flu shot yet, keep in mind that it can take two weeks for antibodies to develop and offer protection against the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

If you feel a headache that is persisting and doesnt respond to your medication the way it normally does, or if you have any other symptoms of COVID-19, its a good idea to get tested for COVID-19 or the flu before socializing with anyone, says Dr. Strauss. Symptoms of a virus can include a fever, but not always, she adds.

Other common symptoms of COVID-19 can include cough, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.

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Other Things To Think About

  • Even with treatment, you may still get migraines.
  • It may take some time to find the right medicines to help you.
  • Using medicines too often can cause rebound headaches. These are different from migraine headaches. They occur after pain medicine has worn off, which leads you to take another dose. After a while, you get a headache whenever you stop taking the medicine. Be sure to take your medicine only as your doctor prescribes.
  • If you think your headaches could be caused by depression or anxiety, be sure to let your doctor know. Treatment for these health problems may get rid of your headaches or reduce how often you have them.
  • If you think your headaches are related to stress, talk to your doctor about getting help to cope better with stress.

Is Migraine A Priority Condition

In the UK the vaccines are being offered to those most at risk from Covid-19 first. The NHS has more information about these groups. The order in which people are offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation . The aim is to vaccinate those most at risk of preventable mortality from Covid-19 first.

People with chronic neurological diseases such as epilepsy are listed as a clinical risk group. This has led to people asking if migraine is considered as a clinical risk group because it is a neurological condition. As far as we know migraine is not considered a clinical risk group because having migraine doesnt put you at risk of serious disease or mortality. If you have other health conditions or have questions about your individual risk you should contact your GP or specialist.

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Blood Pressure Medication And Migraine

It is not unusual for a person who has both migraines and hypertension to begin taking their blood pressure medication and find that their migraines improve. Interestingly, some of the same medications that are used to lower high blood pressure are also often prescribed as preventative migraine medications. This does not necessarily mean that you have a blood pressure migraine or that your migraine is related to your hypertension. It just means that the medication can effectively address both issues.

A class of blood pressure medications called beta blockers is one of the more effective methods of reducing frequency and severity of migraine headaches, says Dr. Dalvi. Medications in this category include propranolol and timolol both of which have been approved for migraine prevention by the FDA. However, they should be avoided in patients with asthma, diabetes or heart block. These medications reduce the activity of the sympathetic system but their exact mechanism in migraine prevention is unknown.

These are not perfect drugs though, despite the possibility that they can treat both hypertension and migraine. At least one study showed an increased risk of mood disorders like depression among patients taking beta blockers. This should not dissuade you from considering these medications, but if you are prone to depression you should talk to your doctor before starting these types of medications.

How Can I Take Care Of Myself

If youâve never had a migraine, youâre one of the lucky ...

When you have a migraine:

  • As soon as possible after the symptoms start, take the medicine recommended or prescribed by your healthcare provider.

If you can, rest in a quiet room until the symptoms are gone. The pain may go away with sleep.

  • Put a cool, moist washcloth on the painful side of your head. You might also try a heating pad set on the lowest setting.
  • Don’t drive a car while you have the headache.

You can make your migraines easier to take care of. Learn to become aware of your early warning signs of headache. You will need to pay close attention to your body to be aware of these signs. When the warning signs appear, try going to a quieter place and doing relaxation exercises. This early care can make a big difference in how easily you can get over the migraine.

If your symptoms don’t get better when you take medicine, make another appointment with your healthcare provider. It may take several visits to find the best way to control your headaches. Also, if you are having headaches more often, make a follow-up appointment with your provider to see if you need more testing or preventive medicine.

  • Changes in your vision do not go away
  • You have symptoms that are not usually part of your migraines, such as:
  • trouble talking or slurred speech
  • arm or leg weakness
  • You have other symptoms such as:
  • fever
  • repeated vomiting for several hours
  • numbness or tingling in your face, arms, or legs
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    Which Migraine Medications Are Available Over The Counter

    First, it helps to know what types of migraine medications are available over the counter and which ones youll need a prescription for.

    OTC migraine medications include:

    The medications listed above are used to treat migraines while youre having one. There are other prescription medications that you can take to help prevent migraines from occurring.

    Why People Skip Their Migraine Medications That Works

    Dr. Thomas N. Ward, professor of neurology at Dartmouth College explained some of the reasons why patients skip the meds. Insurance companies limit the number of triptans available, which causes people to hoard their medicine for the really bad migraines.

    People would hoard their tablets and wait until they were sure it was a migraine. Yet, data says if you wait you get a worse result, use more medication, and get more side effects. So we tell people to treat early, but not every little headache, because if you take too many pills, you get medication overuse what we used to call analgesic rebound headache, Dr. Ward says.

    Clearly, recognizing the perfect window of timing and medication use is clearly tricky. Keeping a migraine medication that works for you on hand can bring a little bit of piece of mind, but even when the meds are available they often go unused.

    We asked some of our MigraineAgain readers to share why they sometimes skip triptans when they feel a migraine coming on.

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    Nausea Drugs For Migraines

    Many people who have migraines often have nausea and vomiting along with head pain. Those symptoms usually get better when you treat the migraine. But sometimes, the nausea and vomiting are bad enough to keep a person from taking their migrainemedications. In these cases, a nausea drug can ease your symptoms so you can get the treatment you need.

    Most nausea medicines come in pill form, but if the problem is severe, you can take them as a rectal suppository.

    Generic Name

    Confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, excitability, nightmares, uncontrollable muscle movements, lip smacking or chewing movements

    Confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, excitability, nightmares, uncontrollable muscle movements, lip smacking or chewing movements

    Trimetho-benzamide hydrochloride

    Low blood pressure, blurred vision, drowsiness, dizziness, feeling disoriented, uncontrollable muscle movements, lip smacking or chewing movements

    metoclopramide hydrochloride

    Uncontrollable muscle movements, lip smacking or chewing movements, sensitivity to sunlight, aching in the lower legs, diarrhea

    What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine

    How to Treat Migraines at Home – 8 Tips

    If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:

  • How often you have headaches
  • Where the pain is
  • How long the headaches last
  • When the headaches happen, such as during your period
  • Other symptoms, such as nausea or blind spots
  • Any family history of migraine
  • All the medicines that you are taking for all your medical problems, even the over-the-counter medicines
  • All the medicines you have taken in the past that you can recall and, if possible, the doses you took and any side effects you had
  • Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.

    You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.

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