Migraine Treatments

Migraine Treatments - There are some specific migraine treatments available today but the starting point before considering any specific migraine treatment is to examine the factors which may be triggering your migraine attacks.

There are many factors which are known to trigger a migraine attack including such things as exercise, sleep, food and stress and keeping a diary in which you record anything which might cause an attack can be very helpful to your doctor in identifying your own particular susceptibility. Once your particular trigger factors have been identified it is surprising how often a few simple lifestyle changes can, if not cure, then certainly reduce the frequency and severity of your attacks.
Migraine Treatments
Migraine Treatments

There are typically two migraine headache treatments used today:
  • Treatment to relieve the symptoms and pain of an attack (sometimes referred to as abortive treatment).
  • Treatment to prevent further attacks.

The approach for most people today is to look at the frequency and severity of attacks, as well as the degree of disability which results from your headaches. It is also important at this point to take into consideration any other medical conditions which you may be suffering from. In relatively mild cases a range of pain relieving medications can then be used to treat the condition. However, where these prove ineffective, or where severe and debilitating attacks are being experienced more than about twice a month, then preventative migraine medication may be prescribed.

The most commonly prescribed pain-relieving migraine medications include:
  • Triptans. Triptans including Imitrex, Maxalt, Amerge, Zomig, Axert, Frova, and Relpax are often the treatment of choice for many patients suffering from severe migraine attacks and are effective in relieving not only the pain of a headache but also nausea and sensitivity to light.
  • Ergots. Ergots have been around for many years and were commonly used before the introduction of triptans. Ergots work similarly to triptans but are generally less effective. The there main advantage these days lies in the fact that they are considerably cheaper than triptans.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include such drugs as aspirin and ibuprofen as well as drugs specifically developed to treat a migraine such as Excedrin Migraine. These drugs are however only effective in treating mild cases of a migraine.
  • Anti-nausea medications. Because many migraine sufferers also experience nausea, it is common to combine some form of anti-nausea medicine with other pain relief drugs.
  • Butalbital combination medications. Combination drugs including the sedative butalbital are sometimes prescribed to treat a migraine although nowadays they are infrequently used because they can have a tendency to induce rebound headaches. They also carry unwanted withdrawal symptoms.
  • Opiates. Opiate drugs such as codeine are sometimes advised for patients who are unable to tolerate triptans or ergots. This class of drugs is however addictive, and so they should only be used when necessary.

The approach taken when it comes to preventing further attacks is essential to prescribe a course of drugs either to be taken on a daily basis or to be taken when you are experiencing a predictable trigger for a migraine attack. These drugs, which will often enhance the effectiveness of pain relieving medications, are designed to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, as well as their length and severity. Commonly used drugs today include:
  • Cardiovascular drugs. Some cardiovascular drugs including beta blockers and calcium channel blockers which are commonly used to treat high blood pressure has been shown to help in the prevention of migraine attacks, although it is not really known why this should be the case.
  • Antidepressants. Although depression can trigger a migraine attack and it would therefore seem logical to use antidepressants as a preventative measure, it is not in fact necessary for you to be suffering from depression for these drugs to be effective. The most helpful drugs regarding a migraine are tricyclic antidepressants which are thought to work by regulating the levels of serotonin and other brain chemicals. Interestingly enough the older antidepressant drugs prove more effective than many of the newer antidepressants.
  • Anti-seizure drugs. Rather like cardiovascular drugs anti-seizure drugs can help in preventing migraines although, once again, we do not really understand why. Anti-seizure drugs must however be used with care as they can lead to dizziness, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and even hair loss.
  • Botox. It has been noted that some migraine sufferers having Botox injections as a facial treatment to remove wrinkles have experienced an improvement in their migraine headaches. Exactly why this should be the case is unclear although it is believed that Botox causes an alteration to your nervous system which reduces your tendency to develop migraine headaches.
  • Antihistamine. One particular antihistamine drug, cyproheptadine, specifically affects the activity of serotonin and is sometimes given to children as a form of migraine prevention.

A growing number of people these days are turning away from traditional migraine medicines and are looking for information about alternative treatments for migraine headaches. In addition to the many natural health remedies being tried, one popular preventive approach is that of biofeedback.

Biofeedback involves teaching people to control the physical processes of the body which can lead to stress to either prevent migraine attacks or to reduce the severity of migraine headaches. Biofeedback also involves the use of self-hypnosis to control muscle contractions and the swelling of blood vessels.

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