Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by severe headaches that can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, plus light and sound sensitivity. It is one of the most common and debilitating conditions in the world.
Although there is no known cure for migraines, there are many different treatments available that can help alleviate symptoms. Fortunately, if you start a search online today, you can learn more about the most effective migraine treatments available.
Types of Migraine Medications
Doctors use two distinct types of approaches, abortive and preventative medications, to treat migraines. Abortive medications, also known as acute medications, are taken at the onset of a migraine attack to alleviate symptoms and stop the attack.
People take preventive medications on a regular basis to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Both types of medications can be effective in managing migraines, and the choice of which to use depends on the individual patient’s needs and symptoms.
Types of Abortive Drugs
Some examples of common abortive drugs include:
- Triptans: This class of drugs works by narrowing blood vessels in the brain and reducing inflammation. Available in tablets, nasal sprays, and injections, triptans are found in brands such as Imitrex, Maxalt, and Zomig.
- Ergotamines: These drugs also work by narrowing blood vessels in the brain, but have stronger side effects than triptans. Common options include Cafergot, Migergot, Ergomar, Ergostat, and Bellergal-S.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can be effective in treating mild to moderate migraines. Common brands include Bayers, Advil, and Motrin IB.
- Anti-nausea medications: Some medications used to treat nausea, such as metoclopramide, can also help relieve migraine symptoms. Common options include Reglan, Compazine, and Zofran.
- Opioids: Strong painkillers may be prescribed for severe migraines, but they are generally not recommended due to the risk of addiction. Common brands include OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.
Types of Preventative Drugs
Some examples of common preventative medications include:
- Beta-blockers: These drugs work by blocking the effects of the hormone adrenaline. Common brands include Inderal, Lopressor, and Toprol XL.
- Calcium channel blockers: These drugs prevent the influx of calcium into the smooth muscle cells, resulting in the relaxation of the blood vessels. Brands include Calan and Verelan.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which regulate pain pathways in the brain and can prevent migraines. Brands include Elavil, Effexor XR, and Cymbalta.
- Botox injections: Botox injections work by blocking the release of chemicals involved in pain transmission and reducing muscle tension, which can trigger migraines.
Outside of the realm of medications, there are many activities that can treat migraines. These focused relaxation techniques have been proven to combat the condition:
- Meditation: Meditation involves focusing on one’s breath or a specific object in a quiet and calm environment.
- Yoga: Yoga is a physical practice that involves stretching, breathing and meditation.
- Massage Therapy: Massage therapy involves the manipulation of soft tissues, including muscles and connective tissues, to reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.
These techniques have been shown to reduce stress and tension, which are common triggers for migraines. Regular practice of these techniques can also improve overall physical and mental health, leading to a reduction in the frequency and severity of migraines.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Another non-pharmacological option is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing negative patterns of thought and behavior. People often use it to treat stress and anxiety, which commonly trigger migraines.
Through CBT, patients learn to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones. This can help to reduce stress levels and anxiety, which in turn can decrease the frequency and intensity of migraines. Plus, CBT may include techniques such as relaxation exercises, breathing techniques, and mindfulness meditation.
Finally, certain lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing migraines. Certain foods such as chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol can trigger migraines in some individuals. Yet, by identifying and avoiding these trigger foods, some people can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of their migraines.
Stress is another common trigger, so it’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress. Other lifestyle changes that may help manage migraines include regular exercise, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and avoiding changes in routine as much as possible.
Improve Your Quality Of Life
Migraine treatment options vary greatly depending on the individual and the severity and frequency of their migraines. It’s important for migraine sufferers to work with their healthcare providers to find the best treatment plan for their specific needs.
With the right combination of therapies, it is possible to reduce the intensity of migraines, thereby improving quality of life and reducing the impact of this debilitating condition.