Preventive (Prophylactic): Preventative medication may be prescribed for patients who have frequent migraine attacks (three or more a month), those who do not respond consistently to acute treatment, and when specific medicines are contraindicated because of other medical conditions (such as stroke or bleeding in the brain). Studies have reported that as many as 40% of these patients may benefit from preventative treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved four prescription drugs for migraine prevention. These include the beta-blockers propranolol (Inderal®) and timolol (Blocadren®), and the anticonvulsants topiramate (Topamax®) and divalproex sodium (Depakote®).
Acute (Immediate) Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three over-the-counter (OTC) products to treat migraine attacks. Excedrin® Migraine (a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine) is indicated for migraine and its associated symptoms such as head pain. Advil® Migraine and Motrin® Migraine Pain (both are ibuprofen) have anti-inflammatory action and are approved to treat migraine headache and its pain.
Triptans: The triptans attach to serotonin receptors on the blood vessels and nerves and thereby reduce inflammation and constrict (narrow) the blood vessels. A reduction in inflammation decreases pressure on nerves in the trigeminal nerve system (nerves in the cranium or head), which decreases the pain signals to the brain and stops the headache. Traditionally, triptans, which are prescription medicines, were prescribed for moderate or severe migraines after over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics such as ibuprofen (Advil®) and other simple measures failed. Newer studies suggest that triptans can be used as the first treatment for patients with migraines that are causing disability. Significant disability is defined as more than ten days of at least 50% disability during a three month period.
In patients with severe nausea, a combination of a triptan and an anti-nausea medication, such as prochlorperazine (Compazine®), may be used.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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