What prescription medications are available for migraine headaches?

Steven A. Meyers, MD
Diagnostic Radiology
There are a variety of medications available to treat migraine headaches. They are generally divided into 2 groups, abortive treatments which are taken to alleviate a migraine when it occurs and preventative treatments that are taken regularly to lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. The type of treatment in any individual patient is determined by the unique features of their disease and should be determined by a physician.
There are several prescription medications available to lessen and control the symptoms of migraine headaches so that you can function on a daily basis. Some medications such as divalproex, atenolol, nadolol, and verapamil are prescribed to try to prevent migraines from reoccurring, as is the antidepressant amitriptyline. Some medications are prescribed to treat the symptoms when they occur. These include metoclopromide, almotriptan, and codeine, for example. All of these medications have potential side effects and should be taken only according to your doctor's order.
Yes, there are quite a number of prescription drugs available for migraine. Some are used on a daily basis to reduce the number and severity of attacks. Some are used “as needed” to shorten migraine attacks. Their use must be individualized and, therefore, requires a discussion with the treating doctor.

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