What you need to know about Migraine Pills
Migraines are intense, debilitating headaches, often identified by severe pulsing sensation or throbbing pain on one side of the head. They are usually accompanied by vomiting, nausea and extreme sensitivity to sound, smell and light. Luckily, migraines can be treated with medications.
In this article, we highlight what you need to know about migraine pills, to help you make an informed decision.
Migraine drugs are classified into two main categories: preventative treatment for reducing the severity and frequency of headaches, and acute treatment for pain and other symptoms associated with a migraine headache.
- Drugs of acute treatment
Acute treatment pills are taken as soon as the symptoms of a migraine begin to show to reduce its severity or relieve a headache. However, the drugs should be consumed with caution since they can result in rebound headaches.
If you have to take the acute treatment pills more than nine times every month, then you should discuss with your caregiver about the possible preventive treatments. Examples of acute treatment pills are painkillers, ergotamines, triptans, anti-nausea drugs, and opioids.
While you can get some over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller for your migraines, most options are available through prescription. Apart from acetaminophen, an analgesic that’s only designed to relieve pain, the others are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as they help with both pain and inflammation. Examples include aspirin, naproxen, ketorolac, ibuprofen, and diclofenac.
Most OTC pills marketed specifically for headaches or migraines blend one or more of these drugs with some caffeine to make them work quicker and more effectively.
Ergotamines contract the blood vessels around the brain, in the process, relieving migraines. They are available in tablets, suppositories, pills, and injections. Examples include methylergonovine, ergotamines, and caffeine, methysergide, etc.
Triptans increase the serotonin levels in the brain, constricting blood vessels and lowering inflammation, effectively stopping a migraine. They come in injections, pills, nasal sprays, and tablets. Examples include zolmitriptan, sumatriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, etc.
- Drugs for preventative treatment
Preventative treatment is the best option if you have frequent migraines. Your doctor will prescribe this drugs to help lower the intensity and frequency of your migraines. Preventative drugs are consumed regularly, often daily, alone or with other drugs. Examples of these drugs include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and Botulinum toxin type A.
Beta-blockers reduce the effects of stress hormones on your blood vessels and heart and can help decrease both the intensity and frequency of migraines. Examples of beta-blockers are timolol, nadolol, atenolol, and metoprolol.
- Calcium channel blockers
Calcium channel blockers control the dilation and constriction of the blood vessel, in the process, decreasing the migraine pain. Examples of calcium chain blockers are nimodipine, diltiazem, and verapamil.
Antidepressants help increase the serotonin levels, which constrict blood vessels and decrease inflammation, helping to reduce migraines. Examples include fluoxetine, amitriptyline, imipramine, and sertraline.
Which migraine pills are right for you?
While you can purchase a migraine medication over-the-counter, the best choice is often to let your doctor prescribe the right medication for you. This is especially vital if you have other medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnancy, heart disease, a blood clot in the brain and so on.