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Medications Used to Treat Migraines

Monday, July 9, 2018 8:46
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A blog about healthcare, health products and treatments.

Migraine Drug Limitations

The market is filled with drugs that help with the symptoms of migraine pain.

The majority of drugs on the market have proven effective in treating the pain and symptoms associated with migraines, but Eric Bastings, M.D., a neurologist at the FDA, makes it clear that they are not for everyone. Some users will experience side effects such as tiredness or dizzy spells, and pregnant women are ruled out from using them because of potential birth defects.

While there are also medical devices, such as Cefaly and Cerena, available to treat migraines, they too are not safe for everyone to use, with pregnant women once again at the top of the list of people at risk.

People who regularly suffer from migraine headaches will often turn to beta-blockers or propranolol, both of which are preventative medications. Beta-blockers are used to treat heart issues, and work by slowing down the heart rate. These types of medications are not suitable for migraine patients who also have lung issues, asthma, or a slow heart rate.

Topiramate and divalproex sodium, which are classified as antiepileptic drugs, are sometimes prescribed as treatment for migraines. Regular use of these seizure medications has proven effective in reducing the number of migraines suffered, but they do not stop them completely.

Medication Overuse Headaches

One issue that migraine sufferers may face when they take preventative drugs is something called medication overuse headache (MOH). This daily headache feels like a migraine, and is often brought on by overusing certain types of medication.

There have been several studies performed on the effects of over the counter (OTC) medications when used by migraine patients. When used for 10 or more days per month, these drugs may cause overuse headaches: aspirin, acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), combination pain relievers, opioids, triptans, and ergotamines.

The FDA is now actively working with manufacturers to ensure that OTC medications used to treat migraines have labels that mention overuse headache. These warnings are already present on the labels of prescription medications.

Patients usually find that the overuse headaches will stop when they come off of the overused medication. It’s important that you talk to your doctor if you believe you have MOH. Your physician can get to the bottom of what is causing you headaches, and can put together a plan of action to get you off the overused medication. It is okay to immediately stop taking some medications, but there are others where you will need to be weaned off. I some cases, patients may require additional therapy to treat withdrawal symtoms.

Best Advice for Migraine Sufferers

It is not uncommon for migraines to go undiagnosed and untreated. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor about your headaches, or that you seek help from a migraine specialist if you feel that you are not getting the relief you need. They can help you get the medication that is best suited to your specific needs.



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