Migraine Medications

Ask any migraine sufferer: there are an infinite number of migraine medications, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription. Generally most medications require a prescription, but this is not always the case.

Perhaps more importantly, migraine medications fall into three general categories:

  1. Preventative – taken on a regular basis to reduce migraine frequency, duration and/or intensity
  2. Abortive – taken during the aura or early phase of a migraine, to attempt to prevent it from snowballing into a full-blown migraine
  3. Rescue – taken anytime during an active migraine to reduce the symptoms.

All preventative and abortive medications, and most rescue medications, require a prescription. OTC medications generally fall into the rescue category, as they tend to be relieve the pain experienced during an active migraine.

Although focused exclusively on interventional, non-medication migraine treatments, Dr. Cabin works with other specialists who prescribe and manage medications, and always employs a comprehensive approach to treat migraines with Botox or possibly migraine surgery. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques to help patients address migraine symptoms in a more effective and more permanent way. After an in-depth patient consultation, we will offer personalized migraine treatment recommendations.

What Migraine Medications Are OTC?

Common OTC migraine medications include medications that are commonly used for traditional headache or mild pain, including:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Advil
  • Aspirin
  • Excedrin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Motrin
  • Tylenol

The effectiveness of these OTC medications varies from person to person. This means OTC medications that work well for one migraine patient may fail to deliver the same results for another.

At The Migraine Institute, our migraine specialists strive to help patients eliminate debilitating migraines and improve their quality of life, so they require less medications to manage their migraines.  As part of our commitment to our patients, we are always happy to teach patients about our long-term migraine treatment options that have been shown to deliver safe, effective results.

What Are the Side Effects of OTC Migraine Medicines?

OTC medications are generally well-tolerated but, depending on medication, can have various side mild side effects. These include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vision problems

Before taking any OTC medicine for migraines, a migraine sufferer should consult with their primary care doctor or neurologist. In addition, a migraine sufferer should always check the active ingredients of an OTC medication and follow the proper dosage instructions.

What Prescription Migraine Medications Are Available?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specifically approved several medications for the prevention of migraines. These medications include:

  • Divalproex sodium (Depakote)
  • Propranolol
  • Timolol
  • Topiramate

Preventative migraine medications are designed to reduce the frequency, severity and duration of migraine attacks. The medications rarely help migraine sufferers completely eliminate migraine symptoms.

Because these medications require a doctor’s prescription, the associated costs are usually higher than those associated with OTC migraine treatments.

Also, much like OTC migraine medicines, prescription migraine medications offer no guarantees. A migraine sufferer may need to try several of these medications before finding one that helps alleviate migraine symptoms. In some cases, a migraine patient may discover that none of the available migraine medications delivers the optimal results.

What Are the Side Effects of Prescription Migraine Medicines?

As there are many types of prescription migraine medications, there are a large number of potential side effects, some more severe than others. Common prescription migraine medication side effects include:

  • Chest pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleepiness
  • Warm sensations

Patients who experience any of the aforementioned side effects should immediately consult with the prescribing doctor or, if serious, go to the nearest emergency room.

What Natural Remedies Are Available to Help Relieve Migraine Symptoms?

Common natural migraine remedies include:

  • B-complex vitamins
  • Feverfew leaves
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Magnesium
  • Peppermint

Although many natural migraine remedies are available, and some have been studied in official trials, it is important to note the FDA does not require clinical trials on dietary supplements. As such, there is limited evidence to highlight the effectiveness of natural remedies to help relieve migraine symptoms.

Should I Take Migraine Medications to Prevent or Treat My Pain?

Each migraine patient is unique, and determines for themselves what treatments work well, and whether the side effects from these treatments are tolerable. But most migraine patients will find that the medications they take don’t work very well, or cause side effects that are sometimes worse than the migraines themselves.  At the Migraine Institute, we have a simple goal: to help migraine patients reduce or eliminate migraine pain once and for all, reducing or sometimes eliminating the need for medications.

We offer two migraine treatment options:

  • Botox: Involves a series of Botox injections to reduce muscular pressure on migraine trigger nerves.
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery: Involves the use of advanced, minimally-invasive surgery techniques to decompress and permanently remove faulty nerve signals that cause migraines.

To find out more about our migraine treatments, please contact The Migraine Institute today at 310.461.0303 or  fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.