Medication used to treat migraine
falls into 2 categories:
a) Symptomatic medication used to treat
the acute attack
b) Prophylactic medication used to
prevent future attacks
treatment with symptomatic medication aims to terminate or decrease the
symptoms of the attack. Analgesics medication such as Panadl, or more
potent painkillers such as the NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory
Drugs) may be used.
used, include mefenamic acid, naproxen sodium or indomethacin. Another
very useful drug for migraine is cafergot. Most of these medications are
inexpensive, and are widely available in most clinics. There are newer
drugs, called triptans, which are very effective in treating migraine.
These are specific for migraine, and may not work for other types of
triptans include sumatriptan, naratriptan and zolmitriptan. They can be
injected or taken as a table - the injection form works faster but is
more inconvenient. Their main drawback is their cost as they are more
expensive. Besides these drugs, other drugs for nausea and vomiting may
also help in alleviating these unpleasant symptoms.
medication does not help to treat the acute attack of migraine, but
serves to prevent it. Therefore, unlike symptomatic treatment which is
taken as and when the attack comes, prophylactic medication is taken
daily regardless of whether there is pain.
medication is considered for the patient if he or she has attacks more
than once a week, if the attacks are severe, if attacks last more than
48 hours, or if it interferes with the patients lifestyle in a major way
causing him or her to be unable to cope. Common drugs used in
prophylaxis are beta-blockers (such as propanolol or atenolol) and
amitriptyline. These must be taken regularly, and take some time to
work. Typically, the onset of action only starts 2-4 weeks after
initiation of medication.
Side Effects for Migraine Medication
medication has side effects, most physicians prefer to start
prophylactic medications at a low dose, then gradually build up to the
effective dose. Once the medication has started working, it is often not
necessary to keep the medication for life. After the headache has been
controlled for 6-9 months, it may be possible to gradually tail down on
the prophylactic medication, till it can be safely stopped without a
More Info about Migraine - Headache
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