Migraine Medications

Although there are many other alternative therapies for treating migraines, probably the first thing most of us will turn to is medication. Society today looks for quick answers found inside a pill, tablet or capsule to all our various ailments. There is certainly nothing wrong with resorting to medication, but when it comes to migraines one should be especially careful about what kind they use.

ASPIRIN

Aspirin is the grand old standby for pain relief. It seems as though aspirin has been around forever and its reputation is getting better every day as it has become a recommended daily preventative measure against heart attacks. Here are some thing to keep in mind when using aspirin to treat migraines.

  • Aspirin should never be given to children under 12.
  • Absorption of aspirin is much more effective and the chances for stomach problems are significantly decreased when dissolved in water.
  • Aspirin can be used in combination with codeine; however be aware that codeine often causes constipation and/or dizziness.

PARACETAMOL

  • Similar to aspirin, but usually less irritating to the stomach lining.
  • Is often used in combination with codeine or sedatives which often strengthens its ability to relieve pain.
  • Paracetamol can cause liver damage if taken in excessive quantities.

SUMATRIPTAN (Imigran)

  • Prescription drug developed specifically to act against migraine headache, has been proven to be quite effective against migraine.
  • Imigram is available in tablet, injection and nasal spray forms.
  • Sumatriptan effects include nausea, and chest and throat tightness.
  • Sumatriptan should be avoided by those suffering from heart disease, poor
    circulation or angina.

METOCLOPRAMIDE (maxalon)

prescription medicine used in combination with aspirin as an anti-nausea drug.
May improve the absorption of other migraine drugs.

ERGOTAMINE (Ergodryl, Cafergot, Migral)

Another effective prescription drug, this one was originally derived from a fungus that grows on rye.
Unlike the other medications, this one is not a painkiller, but instead works specifically to reduce the pressure of blood vessels which causes migraine headaches.
Is often used in combination with caffeine in order to improve its effectiveness.
It is available in both tablet and suppository form
Has been known to cause nausea.
Works by causing a narrowing of the arteries, which may worsen poor circulation.
This medication should not be used in individuals who suffer from heart angina. Dihydroergotamine (Dihydergot) is a similar drug that is given by injection.

PIZOTIFEN (Sandomigran)

This is perhaps the most commonly prescribed preventative medication for migraines.
Common side effects associated with pizotifen include sedation and weight gain.

PROPRANOLOL (Inderal, Deralin)

  • Originally introduced to treat high blood pressure.
  • Multiple side effects ranging from insomnia, depression and weight gain to nightmares,
    impotence, and dizziness due to low blood pressure.
  • May aggravate asthma and poor circulation, but is usually safe in heart disease and angina.
  • Some people experience problems in absorbing this drug, so high doses may be required.

AMITRIPTYLINE (Tryptanol and other brands)

The medication works on headaches independently of its antidepressant action.
Side effects include dry mouth, sedation, weight gain, occasionally blurred
vision, constipation, and bladder problems.
New antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac) and similar drugs are not as effective as headache preventatives.

VALPROATE (Epilim)

Introduced initially to treat epilepsy, it was found to act against most forms of headaches.
Side effects include weight gain, nausea, tremor, hair loss and liver injury.

FEVERFEW

  • Not so much a medication as an herbal extract that has been found effective for treating migraine headache.
  • Few side effects, but be aware that some commercial preparations of feverfew may
    be too weak to be active against headache.

METHYSERGIDE (Deseril)

Methysergide is related to ergotamine.
Often causes upset stomachs and has also been known to cause muscle aches and dizziness.
When used over long periods of time, methysergide has caused severe scarring around the kidneys, therefore it must be used strict medical supervision.

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