The Goal of Drug Therapy For Migraines

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The Goal of Drug Therapy For Migraines

The purpose of drug therapy for migraines is to stop headache symptoms once they start and prevent future attacks. This includes pain-relieving medications (also referred to as abortive treatments) doctors give patients during attacks, and preventive drugs they take daily (often at home) which help reduce their frequency or intensity of migraine headaches.

Preventive medication options include antidepressants, beta blockers, and medications to treat high blood pressure or seizures. Doctors may prescribe these drugs if other treatments don’t work; however it’s important to speak with your doctor about the potential risks and side effects before beginning any medication regimen.

Doctors typically prescribe tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, for migraine prevention. These drugs elevate levels of serotonin in the brain which reduces inflammation and constricts blood vessels; they may also help reduce attacks by relieving stress and anxiety.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can be used to relieve migraine symptoms and reduce inflammation. They come in pill form or tablets that dissolve under the tongue for nasal spray use; NSAIDs are most effective if taken early in a headache and may reduce other abortive medicines needed.

Antiemetics like diphenhydramine, chlorpromazine and metoclopramide can alleviate nausea from a migraine attack. They’re often taken along with other pain relieving medications like ibuprofen to make them more effective. While these drugs are generally safe for adults and teens; pregnant women or those with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes should avoid using them.

Ergotamines were the first drugs specifically designed for migraines. They cause blood vessels around the brain to contract and can stop a headache in minutes. Ergotamines come in pill, tablet, nasal sprays and suppositories form.

However, they can have dangerous side effects and should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. High doses of these drugs are toxic, leading to birth defects or heart problems in unborn children.

If you have a higher likelihood of developing migraines or other health issues such as anemia or low vitamin D levels, your doctor may suggest taking a blood test. They may also order a computerized tomography scan which uses X-rays to create detailed images of your brain. This helps them diagnose tumors, infections, brain damage or bleeding within the brain as well as other medical conditions which could contribute to migraines.

If your migraines are due to brain inflammation, a doctor might suggest taking anti-migraine medications containing calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP). These monoclonal antibodies target either CGRP molecules or the receptor on cells and while more expensive than NSAIDs, they have been known to be just as effective and generally safer for most people.

For patients who aren’t responding to other therapies, CGRP-targeted drugs like adenosine or galcanezumab might be recommended. These are usually administered via IV infusion at a hospital or clinic where an experienced nurse monitors your infusion closely.

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