Headache or Migrane
Doctor Answers (1) on Headache or Migrane
Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), also may help relieve mild migraines in some people.
Drugs marketed specifically for migraines, such as the combination of acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine (Excedrin Migraine), also may ease moderate migraine pain, but aren't effective alone for severe migraines.
If taken too often or for long periods of time, these medications can lead to ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and medication-overuse headaches.
The prescription pain reliever indomethacin may help thwart a migraine headache and is available in suppository form, which may be helpful if you're nauseated.
Triptans. Many people with migraine attacks use triptans to treat their migraines. Triptans work by promoting constriction of blood vessels and blocking pain pathways in the brain.
Triptans effectively relieve the pain and other symptoms that are associated with migraines.
Medications include sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), almotriptan (Axert), naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), frovatriptan (Frova) and eletriptan (Relpax). Some triptans are available as nasal sprays and injections, in addition to tablets.
Side effects of triptans include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and muscle weakness. They aren't recommended for people at risk of strokes and heart attacks.
A single-tablet combination of sumatriptan and naproxen sodium (Treximet) has proved to be more effective in relieving migraine symptoms than either medication on its own.
Ergots. Ergotamine and caffeine combination drugs (Migergot, Cafergot) are less effective than triptans. Ergots seem most effective in those whose pain lasts for more than 48 hours.
Ergotamine may cause worsened nausea and vomiting related to your migraines and other side effects, and it may also lead to medication-overuse headaches.
Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal) is an ergot derivative that is more effective and has fewer side effects than ergotamine. It's available as a nasal spray and in injection form. This medication may cause fewer side effects than ergotamine and is less likely to lead to medication-overuse headaches.
Anti-nausea medications. Because migraines are often accompanied by nausea, with or without vomiting, medication for nausea is appropriate and is usually combined with other medications. Frequently prescribed medications are chlorpromazine, metoclopramide (Reglan) or prochlorperazine (Compro).
Opioid medications. Opioid medications containing narcotics, particularly codeine, are sometimes used to treat migraine headache pain for people who can't take triptans or ergot. Narcotics are habit-forming and are usually used only as a last resort.
Glucocorticoids (prednisone, dexamethasone). A glucocorticoid may be used in conjunction with other medications to improve pain relief. Because of the risk of steroid toxicity, glucocorticoids shouldn't be used frequently. Consult physician or ent specialist for further evaluation and treatment.