How do I Choose the Best Migraine Headache Medicines?

Amanda Dean
Amanda Dean
Some people might need prescription medication to treat migraines.
Some people might need prescription medication to treat migraines.

Migraine headache medicines come in many forms including herbal dietary supplements, over-the-counter remedies, and prescription medications. When selecting from the array of available migraine headache medicines, you must consider your tolerance for migraine pain, medical preferences, and drug sensitivity. Your doctor can help you find a treatment that works for you.

A doctor might be the best source for obtaining the best migraine headache medicine.
A doctor might be the best source for obtaining the best migraine headache medicine.

If your migraines are fairly infrequent or relatively mild or you prefer to seek home remedies over seeing a doctor, you may find herbal or dietary supplements to be an adequate replacement for migraine headache medicines. Some people respond well to ingesting peppermint, cayenne, or ginko biloba when they sense the onset of a migraine. These fairly common supplements are thought to increase pain tolerance or increase blood flow, both of which make migraines more manageable. Caffeinated beverages can also relieve migraine headache pain or at least take the edge off. Although these are not technically medicines, home remedies can have serious side effects such as caffeine dependency.

Herbal supplements may provide migraine relief by increasing blood flow.
Herbal supplements may provide migraine relief by increasing blood flow.

There are several over-the-counter migraine headache medications. For some people, taking aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can adequately halt migraine pain. As you review over-the-counter migraine headache medicines, be aware of ingredients to which you may have sensitivities or allergies. These medicines rarely cure the migraine and the pain may come back after a few hours. If you are taking these medications, be sure to follow the dosage instructions carefully, as overdose may be harmful to your heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs.

A physician may prescribe a medication to take once a migraine strikes.
A physician may prescribe a medication to take once a migraine strikes.

If you have frequent, persistent, or intolerably painful migraines, ask your doctor about prescription options. Most doctors are aware of the debilitating effect of migraines and may be able to help you come up with comprehensive treatment strategies. Be honest with yourself and your doctor when you describe your experience with migraines, as this will help pinpoint the best solution.

In cases of frequent migraines, a physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.
In cases of frequent migraines, a physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.

One strategy for treating migraines is to avoid them in the first place. Your doctor may suggest subtle dietary or lifestyle changes that can keep migraine headaches away. You may also receive a prescription for a prophylactic treatment such as a blood pressure medication that should reduce the frequency of migraine events. This treatment may be combined with over-the-counter medicines when you experience migraines, so you should make sure your preferred pain reliever is readily accessible. This type of migraine headache treatment works best when you remember to take your medication daily, even when it has been some time since your last migraine.

Botox® injections may be given to decrease the occurrence of migraines.
Botox® injections may be given to decrease the occurrence of migraines.

A doctor may also prescribe a medication to take once a migraine strikes. This is considered to be a stronger rescue response than you can receive with over-the-counter pain relievers. If you select this type of treatment, be sure to keep your medication with you at all times so that you can stop a migraine during its earliest phases. This is the best option for migraine sufferers with low blood pressure or who are uncomfortable taking a daily medication to control migraines. In severe cases, this can be used in combination with prophylactic migraine headache medicines.

Botox® is a treatment option for frequent, severe migraine headache sufferers. Botox® injections are given every three months to control the muscles and nerves responsible for migraine pain. This treatment is usually reserved for patients who suffer migraines at least 15 days per month. It can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance companies.

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    • Some people might need prescription medication to treat migraines.
      Some people might need prescription medication to treat migraines.
    • A doctor might be the best source for obtaining the best migraine headache medicine.
      A doctor might be the best source for obtaining the best migraine headache medicine.
    • Herbal supplements may provide migraine relief by increasing blood flow.
      Herbal supplements may provide migraine relief by increasing blood flow.
    • A physician may prescribe a medication to take once a migraine strikes.
      A physician may prescribe a medication to take once a migraine strikes.
    • In cases of frequent migraines, a physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.
      In cases of frequent migraines, a physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.
    • Botox® injections may be given to decrease the occurrence of migraines.
      Botox® injections may be given to decrease the occurrence of migraines.