Migraine Medications


The number of migraine medications available on the market today is much larger and more varied  than it was just 10 years ago.


With the amount of research and advanced imaging technology available, physicians are now able to observe the brain during a migraine attack giving them better information about how to treat the migraine pain and give good relief to the individual.


Remember, you and your physician are partners in developing and adjusting an effective migraine medication plan. Your doctor relies on your ability to communicate how well or how poorly the medication has worked during your previous migraine attacks. Be sure that you understand and share the same treatment goals with your physician so that the medications and other treatment protocols which are recommended fit your plan.

Before any medication is prescribed let your doctor know if you have any allergies as well as any other medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal supplements. You should always know the name of your migraine medication and how it works. Know the generic and brand names as well as the dosages and side effects of any medications that you take.


It is always a good idea to have a 3 x 5 index card printed with the names, dosages and times you take your medications as well as any medical conditions from which you suffer. Have this laminated and keep it with you at all times so that if you suffer an accident or are unable to communicate with an emergency room physician you are more likely to receive appropriate medical attention that meets the needs of both your immediate situation as well as your prior medical condition.


Know the side effects of any medications that you take and call your physician if you experience anything that’s unexpected. Take the medication exactly as prescribed by the physician and recommended by the pharmacist. Especially when using preventative medication, it must be taken at the same time every day and should not be stopped or changed unless you first speak with your doctor. Even when you feel good you must continue to take the medication because stopping it can suddenly make your condition much worse.


Think of your preventative migraine medications as a stopgap measure in a leaky dam. When you take the medication the migraine headaches are not able to manifest themselves in your life but when you do to stop the medication, even when you feel great, it opens up the dam to allow migraine headaches into your life once again.


In order to maintain the correct medication dosage in your body it is important to have a routine. Get into the habit of taking your medicine with breakfast or lunch or dinner or during your favorite television show every day. No matter what the trigger is to remember to take your medication find something that will make it easier for you to remember. Some people take their medication in the morning in the bathroom when they’re brushing their teeth or in the evening when their brushing their teeth because it’s an activity they do on a daily basis.

Always double check the name and dosage of the medication before picking it up and regularly refill your prescriptions with your pharmacist. Know your pharmacy phone number, prescription number, medication name and dosage so that you can easily refill prescription is needed. Ask the pharmacist if they are monitoring all of your medications for interactions and do not wait until you are completely out of a medication before refilling it.


Do not decrease any medication to save money.

If you are having trouble getting the prescription refills financially talk with the physician about ways that you can reduce the cost of your medication and call the manufacturer of the drug to see if they have a scholarship program. If you do have a prescription policy find out the drugs which are covered on your prescription policy and consult with your doctor about how you might be able to work within the policy constraints.


Keep all your medications in the original containers and store it according to the instructions.

Do not take any over-the-counter drugs or herbal therapies with the medications you’ve been prescribed unless you first speak with your pharmacist. Many times you may also want to speak with your doctor but your pharmacist will have the best knowledge about drug interactions and how medications work together.

The way that your body responds to any medication can change over time so talk to your doctor if you notice a difference in how the treatment plan is working. Your medications may need to be adjusted or even changed. Keep track of previous medications that you’ve tried so that your doctor doesn’t prescribe them again if they had failed. When you write these things down be sure to note why you stop a medication. Sometimes the side effects may be the reason for stopping a medication and other times it may be that the medication just didn’t work.

Migraine medications will fall into three different categories.

The first is pain relief which should be taken as soon as you experience signs and symptoms of the migraine.


Some of the more common drugs fall into the categories of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or Motrin, triptans which are used for people who have severe migraine attacks include drugs such as Imitrex, Maxalt and Zomig. Another class of painkillers includes ergotamines which are much less expensive than the triptans but just as effective. At this point they seem most effective for those people whose pain lasts for more than 48 hours.

People who suffer from migraines usually also experience nausea and vomiting and anti-nausea drugs are usually combined with other medications

In some instances physicians will prescribe opiates which are medications that contain narcotics especially codeine. Research has determined however that those people who consistently use opiates and narcotics to treat the pain of migraine can experience rebound headaches which actually worsen the condition.

Nearly half of all people who get migraines can benefit from preventative medication yet only about 10% take it.

You can be a candidate for preventative therapy if you experience two or more migraines per month and pain relieving medication is not helping. Preventative medications will help reduce the frequency, severity and length of the manic migraine attacks. In most cases they do not eliminate the headaches and some medications actually have some serious side effects.

Classes of drugs which fall into preventative medicine are cardiovascular drugs such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, antidepressants anti-seizure drugs, anti-histamines and Botox.

Individuals who suffer from migraine headaches should consult with their neurologist and pharmacist in order to develop the best overall treatment plan they can for their specific individual needs.


Drugs.com: Migraine MEdications

Globalrph from VA Medical Center Detroit MI: Migraine Medications

MayoClinic: Migraine