Which migraine drugs are best for relieving migraine headaches and preventing migraine attacks? Below are the most popular migraine medications, including possible dangerous side effects.
From Part I:
Two strategies for migraine relief
- Pain relief- Also known as acute or abortive treatment, these types of drugs are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms that have already begun.
- Preventative- Prophylactic migraine drugs are taken regularly, usually every day, in order to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Most prophylactic migraine medicines do not treat other migraine symptoms (nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, light sensitivity, migraine aura), but instead aid in preventing migraines by controlling vascular swelling.
Migraine medications that prevent migraine attacks
If you suffer frequent debilitating migraine attacks that do not respond to pain relievers, then your doctor may wish to prescribe migraine prophylaxis treatments. Also, “migraine with aura” patients qualify for preventative migraine treatments that reduce the frequency and duration of migraine attacks, in addition to significantly reducing the severity of migraine symptoms.
Heart disease medications
- Beta blockers- Propranolol (Inderal La, Innopran XL)
- Calcium channel blockers- Verapamil (Calan, Verelan)
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors- Lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril)
Caution: Cardiovascular medications for migraines may cause drug and alcohol interactions, dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, wheezing, depression, vivid nightmares, cold hands and feet, asthma, diarrhea, nausea, slow heartbeat, and swollen ankles.
- Tricyclic antidepressants- Amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)- Paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine HCl (Prozac), Celexa
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)- Venlafaxine (Effexor, Venlafaxine HCL)
Caution: Antidepressants may cause drug interactions. Side effects include irregular heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, headache, fatigue, weakness, weight gain, increased appetite, reduced sex drive, and dry mouth.
- Valproate (Depacon)
- Topiramate (Topamax)
- Gabapentin (Neurontin)
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
Caution: Anti-seizure medications for migraine may cause drug interactions. Long-term use of anti-seizure medications may cause pancreatitis, liver damage, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, cramps, weight gain, impaired vision, hair loss, and dizziness. Some epilepsy drugs like Depacon may cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy.
Caution: Antihistamines may cause drug interactions. Side effects may include drowsiness, dizziness, nervousness, irritability, disorientation, hallucinations, insomnia, allergic reactions, impaired vision, tinnitus, low heartbeat, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, jaundice, hepatitis, anorexia, sore throat, chest pains, respiratory congestion, increased appetite, chills, and headache.
Botulinum toxin type A (Botox)
Caution: Botox injections may cause side effects like difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, muscular weakness, muscular pain, visual impairments, itching, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, bruising, bleeding, swelling, redness, sore throat, fever, cough, runny nose, flu symptoms, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, dry mouth and eyes, tinnitus, increased sensitivity to light, and headache.
Alternative migraine nutrients
Natural ingredients for migraine headaches improve neurological functioning without dangerous side effects.
Herbs and vitamins for migraines
- Coenzyme Q10
Caution: Butterbur supplements may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids- seek butterbur extracts that are free of hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. As with all medications, allergic reactions may occur. Seek advice from a doctor before starting any new migraine treatment, including natural migraine remedies.
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