The key to preventing migraine is managing triggers such as stress, certain foods or strong perfumes.  Some migraine sufferers keep headaches at bay through alternative and complementary therapies like acupuncture.

For others, taking medication when not having a migraine attack helps.  This procedure involves daily doses of the medication with the goal of gradually tapering and, ideally, eventually discontinuing the medication.

Because different medications have different effects and side effects, it’s important to work with a medical practitioner to find the one that best helps an individual.  Here are some of the medications most commonly used in preventing migraine:

Beta Blockers are commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and heart-related chest pain.  The medication may prevent blood vessels from expanding to the extent that they put pressure on nerves, resulting in migraine.

Tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used in managing pain.  Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep) is about 60% effective in thwarting migraine.  It’s the best-studied and most frequently prescribed medication for migraine prevention.

Calcium-channel blockers are also primarily used for heart problems but offer prevention of migraine for some sufferers.

Anti-seizure medications such as Topiramate (Topamax) and divalproex (Depakote) are also approved for migraine prevention.  Though not specifically approved, Gabapentin (Neurontin) does work well for some persons.

Low-dose aspirin if less effective than the above, but it may help control migraine when used with another preventive medication.

Always check with your doctor before starting daily doses of aspirin.

My Take on migraines:  Joan Didion, author and migraine sufferer, once wrote:  “That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.”

Source:  Harvard Medical School Healthbeat,  December 20, 2012


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