Treating Migraine with Medication

Mild Analgesics in the Treatment of Migraine

If you have mild migraine attacks, your migraine headaches may respond to over-the-counter medications. However, these should be taken in moderation as excess doses can increase headache frequency and severity. International Headache Society recommendations are to limit the use of over-the-counter medications to no more than 15 days a month, which averages out to three days a week.

The frequent use over-the-counter medications can also result in other problems if used year over year. Acetaminophen (paracetamol) can cause liver damage if overused. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can result in stomach irritation, and can contribute to risk of heart disease. Long term excessive use of either type of over-the-counter medication can result in kidney damage.

Migraine Prescription Medications

Most migraine sufferers have attacks that are moderate or severe. These usually do not fully respond to over-the-counter medications. Fortunately, there are a variety of migraine-specfic medications designed to abort an acute migraine attack. If you have tried one or two, there may still be others that would work. Sometimes, pills do not work fast enough, as it takes at least 30 minutes for a pill to get from your stomach to your bloodstream. If this has happened to you, be aware that there are migraine-specific medications in both injectable and nasal spray forms.

Migraine and Medication: Prevention

Until we learn more about the primary prevention of headache disorders, medications remain the mainstay of treatment. Learn how to most effectively manage your headaches with medication when trigger management and lifestyle management are not adequate to keep your headaches at bay. At present, preventative medication therapy is under-utilized in the management of migraine headache. If you have three or more days of disabling headache per month, migraine prevention may be helpful for you, and you should discuss this with your physician. Even if you have as few as two disabling headache days a month, but cannot use triptan medications to abort them because of other medical conditions, you may be a candidate for migraine prevention medication.

There are many preventive medications. Even if you have tried three or four, there are likely to be other medication options available.