A wide range of medications are prescribed or recommended for people who have migraines. It can often be confusing as to which medication you have been given and why or how it works. The truth of the matter is that for some of these medications we don’t know why they work, we just know that they do for some people. None of them work for everyone, and even for the people they work for, the results can vary widely.
Below is some basic information on the most common types of medication prescribed for migraines. I hope it helps to ease the confusion a little bit.
2 Reasons to Take Medication
There are 2 reasons why people take medications for migraine. The first is for the relief of pain and symptoms during an acute attack. The second reason is as a preventative medication to stop the attacks from occurring.
Some people are able to manage their migraines with over the counter medications but many will require stronger medication only available with a GP script.
Over the Counter
Aspirin – Not recommended for young children.
Paracetamol –Over use brings the risk of liver damage which is irreversible.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) – Common brands include Nurofen, Brufen, Naproxen / Naprosyn.
Triptans – Common triptan prrscribed are sumatriptan (Imigran), naratriptan (Naramig), zolmitriptan (Zomig), rizatriptan (Maxalt). Triptans work by affecting the level of serotonin in the brainstem.
Strong NSAID’s – prescription only stronger forms of the NSAID’s mentioned above. Work by reducing inflammation.
Anti-nausea medications – common examples include Maxolon, Stemetil and Motilium. Prescribed to help control nausea which is the most common associated feature of migraines.
All these medications are prescription only.
Pizotifen – commonly known as Sandomigran – probably the most commonly prescribed preventative medication. It is not known how this medication works but it is thought to affect the serotonergic system. Sandomigran does not work once the migraine has started but only acts to reduce frequency or attacks.
Beta Blockers – common examples include Betaloc, Lopresor, Inderil and Deralin. The mechanism for their action is unknown but they are known to affect the adrenaline system.
Neuro modulators – common example include Topamax and Epilim. These medications work by stabilising electrical activity in the brain and are also commonly used to prevent seizures in people with epilepsy. Topamax is often mentioned by patients as a medication they have stopped due to the side effects.
Anti-depressants – Common examples include amitriptyline (Tyrptanol). It is thought that anti-depressant medications help migraines by working on the serotonergic system.
If you have any questions about the side effects, dosage or any other information regarding these medications you should talk to your GP or pharmacist. A good online source of medication information is at www.nps.org.au/medical-info/medicine-finder
If you are experiencing migraines and looking for a medication free solution then Bayside Headache Clinic may be able to help you.
We offer a free 30 minute assessment of your migraines and can offer treatment that will significantly help 80% of people.
To book your free 30 minute assessment call 0423 071 971 or fill out the form below and we will contact you.