What are the Best Ways to Treat a Chronic Migraine Headache?

Steve R.
Steve R.
An ice pack, which can help with pain from a migraine.
An ice pack, which can help with pain from a migraine.

Annually, more than 29 million people suffer from a chronic migraine headache. Affecting more females than males, a chronic migraine headache typically results in severe pain that can last for hours or days. While there is no cure for migraines, there are a variety of ways to treat the nuisance. Treatment generally seeks to alleviate discomfort and further episodes. Chronic migraine headache is often treated with medications, relaxation exercises, and alternative medicine.

Napping may help ease migraines.
Napping may help ease migraines.

Drugs to treat chronic migraine headache typically fall into two areas, acute and preventive. Acute, sometimes known as abortive, refers to medication taken once symptoms appear in order to decrease pain symptoms once they appear. Preventive treatment entails taking medication to alleviate the harshness of future episodes.

Triptans are common acute medications taken for migraines. This type of medication, which comes in the form of tablets, nasal sprays, and shots, helps to alleviate the symptoms of pain, nausea, and susceptibility to bright lights and sounds connected with migraines. Triptans are able to raise the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, allows blood vessels to narrow, which helps in alleviating pain.

Some individuals are genetically predisposed to migraines, while others get them due to environmental triggers.
Some individuals are genetically predisposed to migraines, while others get them due to environmental triggers.

Another acute medication that mixes with serotonin is ergot. This medication, in the form of nasal sprays and injections, works for a migraine sufferer whose symptoms last more than two days. Other acute medications include common over-the-counter medicine including aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen.

Preventive medicines are often used for other treatment, but can be effective in helping against migraines. An effective preventive medicine is beta blockers, which are often used for treating high blood pressure and heart disease. Antidepressant medication also is a preventive medicine to fight migraines. A person does not need to suffer from depression to use antidepressants, which raise the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain.

In cases of chronic migraines, the patient's physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.
In cases of chronic migraines, the patient's physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.

A chronic migraine headache sufferer can also treat the condition with relaxation, which a person can do fairly quickly. Relaxation treatment includes resting or napping in a quiet and dark location. Putting a damp wash cloth or ice pack on the head or neck and consuming lots of fluid are also effective relaxation techniques.

Alternative therapies may also be ways of treating a chronic migraine headache. During acupuncture, a migraine sufferer allows a skilled practitioner to place slim needles into the skin. Massages alleviate the regularity of migraines and also allow an individual to get a better night’s sleep. Certain herbs, such as feverfew and butterbur, are capable of alleviating the severity of migraines and their symptoms.

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    • An ice pack, which can help with pain from a migraine.
      An ice pack, which can help with pain from a migraine.
    • Napping may help ease migraines.
      Napping may help ease migraines.
    • Some individuals are genetically predisposed to migraines, while others get them due to environmental triggers.
      Some individuals are genetically predisposed to migraines, while others get them due to environmental triggers.
    • In cases of chronic migraines, the patient's physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.
      In cases of chronic migraines, the patient's physician may prescribe a prophylactic medication.
    • Sitting in a quiet, dark room may help alleviate the symptoms of a migraine.
      Sitting in a quiet, dark room may help alleviate the symptoms of a migraine.
    • There are multiple medications in the form of a nasal spray that can provide acute relief for migraine headaches.
      There are multiple medications in the form of a nasal spray that can provide acute relief for migraine headaches.