What to know about Frontal Lobe Headaches
Everything You Need to Know About Headaches
Medications for Headaches
Medications for migraine and headache relief can be divided into two groups: pain-relieving (also known as abortive medications) and preventive (prophylactic medications). (7)
Pain-relieving medications are taken once symptoms begin. Preventive medications are taken regularly, sometimes daily, to stop headaches before they start. Headache relief medications are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
Doctors believe this group of medications works by blocking a chemical in the body that causes inflamed tissue to swell and, in the case of headaches, signaling the brain when there is pain.
NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox). Aspirin is another NSAID sometimes used in combination with acetaminophen and caffeine for strong headache relief, as in Excedrin, and in products designed to treat migraines.
Three anti-inflammatory drugs have been approved as migraine relief medications: Excedrin Migraine, Advil Migraine, and Motrin Migraine Pain.
The most common side effects of NSAIDs are nausea, indigestion, and heartburn. Be sure to take NSAIDs with food to offset the risk of an upset stomach. In high doses or when used for a long time, NSAIDs can also damage the kidneys and worsen heart conditions.
Triptans are often the first prescription choice for migraine relief. They constrict, or narrow, the blood vessels and keep chemicals that are thought to cause migraines from being released.
Sumatriptan (Imitrex), zolmitriptan (Zomig), eletriptan (Relpax), and almotriptan (Axert) are frequently used triptans.
If taken often, triptans can cause a boomerang effect known as “rebound headaches.” Other potential side effects include nausea, dizziness, muscle weakness, and abnormal heart rhythms.
If you mainly rely on pain-relieving migraine medications, be sure to follow the directions on the label closely. Speak with your doctor if you find you need them more than occasionally. If that is the case, your doctor may recommend a daily preventive medication in place of pain-relieving medicines.
Video: Migraine 101: A 3-Step Guide to Managing Headaches
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