The best way to treat migraines so far is through medicines. Drugs specifically created to address migraine pain are the most widely used while other drugs made to treat other conditions are availed to prevent or relieve migraines. Migraine medications are classified into two types. These are:
Preventative drugs – These drugs are taken on a daily basis to help lessen the recurrence or the intensity of the headaches.
Pain-relievers – The medications, also termed abortive or acute treatment, are taken when the person experiences a migraine attack. They are meant to stop the symptoms of an ongoing migraine attack.
The doctor often provides you a treatment plan for your migraine depending on the intensity and regularity of the headaches. Other factors physicians consider as well for the formulation of an effective migraine treatment plan include other health issues you have, the effect of migraines in your life, the number of times your migraine attack happens and their severity.
Certain medicines will not be prescribed by the doctor if you are pregnant or are breastfeeding your baby. Some medications are not prescribed for children with migraines.
If you suffer from incapacitating attacks at least twice or more times a month, the doctor may likely give you preventative medications especially if painkillers are not effective enough for you or if your attacks include extended numbness or aura along with weakness. Preventative medicines help curtail the duration, intensity and regularity of your migraines and can enhance the effectiveness of the drugs that help relieve your symptoms during a migraine attack.
Preventative drugs are often taken on a daily basis or when an event is coming that you know will trigger migraine attacks like menstruation. If you have not experienced a migraine attack for at least half a year to a year, the doctor will often cut down the dosage or the frequency of your medications. He will then observe if your attacks come back or not.
Some of the preventative drugs use for migraine prevention may include:
Botox or botulinum toxin type A – Botox has been certified by the FDA as a preventative drug for chronic migraine headaches in adults. This drug is administered through injection in your throat and forehead. This treatment is done every three months.
Antidepressants – Tricyclics like protriptyline, nortriptyline and amitriptyline is often doctor prescribed for migraine prevention. They help lessen the frequency of headaches by controlling serotonin levels and other brain chemicals that help trigger migraine headaches.
Cyproheptadine – This is an antihistamine that controls serotonin activity and is sometimes prescribed for children with migraines.
Anti-seizure medications – These meds include Neurontin, Topamax and Depacon. They help lessen the occurrence of migraines. Some anti-seizure meds like Lamictal can be used for migraine sufferers who experience aura. These drugs have side effects like dizziness, cramps, diarrhea, hair loss, vomiting and nausea.
Cardiovascular medicines – Beta blockers have proven effective in limiting the regularity and severity of migraines. Certain beta blockers like Innopran XL, and Inderal La help prevent migraines. Calcium channel blockers like Verelan and Calan have been reported to lessen or prevent symptoms from aura. A high blood pressure medicine called Zestril has proven to mitigate the intensity and duration of migraines. No one knows how these medications work effectively I controlling migraine symptoms although they have side effects like lightheadedness, drowsiness or dizziness.
These medicines help make the migraine pain more tolerable and provide relief from migraine attacks.
Analgesics – These include acetaminophen like Tylenol or ibuprofen like Motrin or Advil or even aspirin. These temporarily provide relief for your migraine symptoms. However, long-term use of these drugs can result in gastrointestinal hemorrhage, ulcers and rebound headaches. A prescription analgesic called indomethacin is available as a suppository and helps also in minimizing migraine symptoms.
Triptans – These drugs are especially popular for migraine sufferers who experience sound and light sensitivity, nausea and pain associated with their migraines. These drugs include Relpax, Frova, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Axert and Imitrex. Side effects of these drugs include weakness of the muscles, dizziness, vomiting or nausea. These drugs are not recommended for patients who have suffered heart attacks or strokes. One particularly effective migraine medication which is a combination of naproxen sodium and sumatriptan has shown to efficiently relieve migraine symptoms and signs.
Ergot – The brand names Caferogot and Migergot are more effective in treating migraine signs and symptoms that have lasted for more than two days. An ergot extract called Dihydroergotamine has fewer side effects and is more effective in relieving migraine pain and discomfort than ergotamine.
Anti-nausea medicines – These drugs like Compro or Reglan are meant to address nausea with or without vomiting caused by migraine. These are usually taken along with other migraine drugs.
Opiates – These drugs are alternatives for people who cannot take ergot or triptan medicines. They contain narcotics like codeine that are at times good in relieving migraine pain. Opiates can be habit forming and are taken only as treatment of last resort
Dexamethasone – This is a corticosteroid that can be taken along with other migraine medications. Owing to the inherent toxicity of steroids, dexamethasone should only be used sparingly.
Biofeedback – This is a stress-reducing technique that electronically measures brain waves, skin temperature and muscle tightness to “record” a person’s condition. Then biofeedback training based on the person’s health condition will be provided as treatment for the person health issues.
Acupuncture – This procedure is a very old Chinese medicinal technique that uses very thin, non hollow needles inserted into specific parts in the body. The needles stimulate the body to address imbalances that cause health problems. Acupuncturists believe that migraine and other headaches are due to the blockage of energy called chi in certain body organs. Acupuncture removes the blockages in energy pathways called meridian of these organs as well as release natural body pain-killers like endorphins in the blood to help reduce headaches and migraines.
Nawei’s Acupuncture Clinic
559 E. Pikes Peak Ave. Suite 212
Colorado Springs, CO 80903