What should I do when a migraine begins?

Once a migraine has started, people generally take medication to treat them.

Acute treatments include Tylenol and Advil (ibuprofen). They are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They work best early, after the migraine has begun but before head pain begins. The NSAIDs often are effective for headaches without intense pain.

One recent study shows that an effective treatment for migraines combines aspirin, caffeine and acetaminophen. Excedrin has begun using this combination in its migraine medications.

Triptans also are used in acute migraine treatment. Some migraine sufferers call this serotonin-mimicking medicine a miracle drug. Sumatriptan (Imitrex), which can be taken as a nasal spray or in pill form, acts more quickly-so is especially good if you are having problems with nausea and vomiting.

If you end up in the hospital because of a severe migraine with vomiting, the doctor might give you Imitrex in the form of an injection. However, you can purchase your own Imitrex injector and inject yourself, thus avoiding a trip to the doctor's office.

Under the skin (subcutaneous) injections and nasal treatments enter the bloodstream more quickly to help provide faster relief.

Work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. Keeping a list of home treatment methods that have worked for you in the past also can help. When symptoms begin:

If you take migraine medicine, take it right away Drink fluids, if you don't have nausea during your migraine Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room, if that is practical

Some people find the following useful:

A cold cloth on your head Rubbing or applying pressure to the spot where you feel pain Massage or other relaxation exercises

This answer is based on information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.