Medication For Migraines

Medication For Migraines
Medication For Migraines

Medication For Migraines - Migraine sufferers understand the need to have an effective pain relief therapy in place.  But it’s not just enough to go to the local pharmacy and buy an over-the-counter remedy.  There are different migraine medications that serve varying functions.  A consultation with your doctor will arm you with the knowledge you need to make educated decisions about your prescription migraine medication needs.

Medications For Migraines

Contrary to popular belief, one migraine medicine does not fit all.  In fact, all medicine for migraines fit into one of three categories – preventive, abortive and rescue. Each has a specific job function and is used during varying stages of a migraine attack. Let’s take a look at these three categories.

Preventive medicines:

Preventive medicines do just as their name suggests – they help prevent a migraine attack.  People who average one migraine a week are often prescribed preventive medicine.  Many people are wary about taking a once a day pill to keep their migraines at bay, yet these same people would not think twice about taking medication to control their diabetes or thyroid issues.  What they need to realize is that chronic migraines are a disease in their own right and there’s nothing wrong with taking medicine to live a better, more pain-free life.

Surprisingly, there are only four preventive medications that have been approved by the FDA.  They are:
  • Inderal (propranolol), a beta blocker originally developed for heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Blocadren (timolol), another beta blocker
  • Depakote and Depakote ER (divalproex sodium), a neuronal stabilizing agent, also known as an anticonvulsant, originally developed for seizure disorders
  • Topamax (topiramate), another neuronal stabilizing agent

Only your doctor can tell you if any of these are right for you so be sure to schedule an appointment where you have enough time to discuss your medical history and any other medicines you might be taking at the present time.

Abortive medicines:

Abortive medicines attempt to interrupt the migraine while it’s in progress.  Their job is to reverse the dilation of the blood vessels which occurs in the brain and removing the inflammation of the surrounding nerves and tissues.  When effective, these medications can stop a migraine dead in its tracks, though migraineurs can still experience the exhaustion that occurs from the attack. Three popular migraine abortives are:
  • Triptans: Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Axert, Relpax, and Frova
  • Ergotamines such as Migranal nasal spray and DHE-45 (injectable)
  • Isometheptene compounds such as Midrin.

Abortive medicines can be dangerous to those who suffer from cardiovascular disease, so please ensure you share your entire health history with your doctor so he or she can make the proper assessment regarding the use of abortives for pain management.

Rescue medicines:

When all else fails, rescue medicines are used to save the migraineur from a ruthless attack.  Most rescue medications are pain relievers but a few are used to reduce nausea and promote relaxation.

Remember, they don’t have the ability to abort a migraine, but they do have the potential to provide you with a few hours of pain relief to make the attack more tolerable.
  • Butalbital compounds: Fiorinal, Fioricet, etc. (with or without codeine)
  • Acetaminophen with codeine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone such as Vicodin, Percocet, Tylenol #3
  • Other analgesics (pain relievers) such as Ultram, Toradol, and others
  • In some cases, doctors will prescribe injectable medications such as Demerol to be used at home in emergencies
  • Antinausea medications such as Compazine, Phenergan, Reglan
  • Muscle relaxants such as Soma, Skelaxin, Zanaflex
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or aspirin, may help relieve mild migraines. If taken too often or for long periods of time, NSAIDs can lead to ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and rebound headaches.


Choosing which medications will become part of your regimen depends on the severity of your migraines. Migraineurs with sporadic mild to moderate migraines may find they do quite well with abortive medications only.  Even so, there are those who might even manage with a mild pain reliever.

For those whose suffer from frequent, violent migraines, the most effective regimen will most likely include preventives to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, abortives to stop them as they develop and rescue medications to help avoid trips to the emergency room if the abortives fail.

Some migraineurs with a history of cardiovascular disease may find that they cannot use abortives other than Midrin and will need to limit their regimens to only preventive and rescue medications if Midrin is not effective for them.

Next Page : Imitrex For Migraines - What You Should Know About This Prescription Drug For Migraines