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Take Your Meds! Guide to Common Migraine Medications

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Jan 14, 2014 7:00:00 AM

Can a magnetic device really bring relief to people who suffer from migraines? The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to think so. A recent press release by the FDA announced its approval of the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator, a device that migraine patients can use to give themselves a shot of magnetic energy as soon as the sense an aura.

This new device is certainly an innovative method to treat migraines, but until its effectiveness can be ascertained, patients have various medications that physicians can prescribe for them. There are two main categories of migraine medications: Pain relief and prevention.

Pain Relief Medications for Treatments of Migraine

Over-the-counter analgesic such as aspirin and Tylenol are often taken by migraine sufferers when their headaches are mildly discomforting. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicines such as Motrin and Advil may also bring some level of pain relief. Some over-the-counter medications such as Excedrin Migraine offer a mixture of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine.

Indomethacin is a commonly prescribed NSAID that is often effective in suppository form to combat nausea symptoms brought on by migraine episodes. Ergots alkaloids are part of a group of prescriptions medications that treat migraine headaches by constricting blood vessels. Migranal is the trade name of an ergot derivative that is often available as a nasal spray for immediate relied; this medication has an added advantage of not causing the unpleasant nausea side effects commonly associated with ergots.

Triptans tend to be more effective than ergots since they affect serotonin receptors as well as blood vessels. Opiate derivatives that contain codeine may be prescribed for some migraine patients who do not respond well to other pain relief medications; these narcotic solutions, however, tend to be habit-forming and are thus used as a last resort.

Preventive Medications for Treatment of Migraines

The early medical uses of beta blockers were limited to cardiac conditions and treatment of high blood pressure. Later research proved the effectiveness of these medications in migraine treatment. Inderal is a popular beta blocker that is often prescribed for the purpose of preventing migraines.

Antidepressants are not only used to help patients who suffer from depression. Similar to the ergot derivative Migranal mentioned above, research on tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil has shown that they can be effective in preventing migraines. 

Medications used in the treatment of epilepsy can also prevent migraines to a certain extent; however, these medications tend to cause serious side effects when used in high doses. Research on the positive effects of BOTOX for some migraine patients has emerged in the last few years. 

Not all migraine patients will react positively to the medications above. A balanced combination of preventive and pain relief medications is recommended by many physicians, but it is important to remember that current medications are not an absolute cure for migraines.
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