Migraine Medications List

Migraine Medications List
Migraine Medications List

Different Treatment Options


Anyone who has ever suffered with the pain of a migraine knows how important it is to have something on hand to take when an attack occurs. However, migraine medications vary from over the counter to prescription medications to injections that have to be given by a doctor.

The type of treatment used will depend on the person who is having the migraine, the frequency of the headache and how they respond to the medication. Doctors prefer to give the least medication possible that works simply to avoid complications such as addiction to narcotic pain meds. There are many different migraine medications that can be tried that are outlined below.

First things First


Before trying medications to treat migraines, it is a good idea to attempt to treat them with home strategies that just might work. This is simply to avoid adding medicine to the body if it is not needed. These may also be used along with migraine medications to provide added relief. Some common strategies include:
  • Lying down in a cool, quiet, dark room with supporting pillows for the neck and head.
  • Coffee: Caffeine has been shown to help with many types of headaches. A cup of coffee while relaxing could help with the pain.

These are just two examples of things to try at home and that can be done along with taking medications.

OTC Medications


Most people with migraines start out attempting to use over the counter pain relievers. This saves time and money and if they work, they don’t have to be as concerned with side effects. Some of the most common OTC pain medications that can be used for migraines include:

NSAIDS: These are medications that do not contain steroids and reduce swelling. The anti-inflammatory agent should help relax the blood vessels which is part of what causes the migraine. However, people who have a history of bleeding ulcers should not use these medications. Examples of NSAIDS are:
  • Ibuprofen – this comes in the name brand names of Advil and Motrin. There are also migraine specific versions such as Advil Migraine.
  • Naproxen Sodium – this medication comes in under the brand names of Aleve and Naprosyn.
  • Acetaminophen – Tylenol is the most widely known brand of acetaminophen. This medication can be used alone or with an NSAID for added pain relief. It should not be used if liver problems are existent.
  • Caffeine: There are some combination medications that are over the counter, such as Excedrin Migraine, which add caffeine to the acetaminophen to produce a pain reliever that has shown to be effective for some people.

Prescription Medications


If OTC medications don’t work, a doctor can prescribe a medication that may or may not work. Not everyone responds the same way and it may take several different trials to find something that provides relief. Some prescription medication options include:

Triptans: These are designed to stop the migraines from ever occurring in the first place. This class of medications works on the serotonin levels in the brain. They can be self-injected, taken as pills or even wafers that dissolve on the tongue. These medications work best if taken as soon as the first symptom appears. Triptans include:
  • Zomig
  • Relpax
  • Imitrex
  • Axert
  • Frova
  • Naramig

Anti-Nausea Medications: These medicines are designed to prevent nausea and vomiting but have also shown to stop migraines if taken at the first sign of an attack. Phenergan is the best known anti-nausea and Compazine is another popular one.

Narcotics: These are weak narcotics that doctors will prescribe when nothing else is bringing about pain relief. Often, they simply induce sleep which then allows the body to relax and heal. Narcotics are the last choice by many doctors simply because they can be habit forming. Some of the milder narcotics used include:
  • Tylenol with codeine- this is an acetaminophen and codeine combination
  • Floricet or Florinal

Stronger narcotics such as Lortab, Vicodan, Percoset and others are not used unless the migraine simply will not subside.

Prevention Medications: Preventative medications can be prescribed to attempt and stop the migraine from occurring. These are usually given to people who have frequent migraine attacks and are taken daily in order to stop the attacks from occurring.
  • Beta Blockers: Although typically used to treat high blood pressure, these are also being used as preventatives in migraine treatment. Inderal is one such medication.
  • Calcium-Channel Blocker: This is also a high blood pressure medication that has shown success in treating migraines. Prescription names include Covera
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants work to prevent migraines. Though the reason why is not certain, it may be that they keep stress from becoming an issue and thus prevent the headache associated. Some antidepressants that are sued include Elavil and Pamelor.
  • Seizure Medications: Seizure medications work on a certain part of the brain to prevent seizures. Some of these have shown to be beneficial in preventing migraines as well. Examples include Neurontin, Topomax and Depacote.

It is easy to see that there are many options available for treating migraines with medications. The goal should be to successfully treat the migraine with the least aggressive medication.

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