For the millions of Americans who suffer from migraines on a regular basis, prevention and treatment are not taken lightly. A bad migraine headache is an excruciating and grueling experience. The effects can last for several hours, and people often feel they have no option but to “wait it out.”
For some, it’s possible to recognize the signs early. There may be a visual “aura” and a slight loss of balance or motor skills. There may be visual blurriness, mounting pressure at the temples, and increased sensitivity to light. When the pain arrives, it’s often localized to one side of the head—and it’s often too severe to continue with normal activities.
Everybody deals with migraines differently. Some people get them only once or twice a year, and they simply deal with the problem when it arises. Taking aspirin and laying down in a darkened room is a common response. Other people get migraines more frequently, and are more proactive in seeking treatments and solutions.
If you or someone you know suffers from migraine headaches, ask your doctor or urgent care center about these four categories of treatment.
- Preventative medications
Chronic migraine sufferers should have an honest and open discussion with their doctor or urgent care professional about possibilities for migraine prevention. After all, the best migraine is one that never fully develops. Medications used to prevent migraines may include botox injections, certain antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-convulsant medications. These preventative strategies are reserved for patients who suffer frequent debilitating migraine attacks, as side effects may occur with regular use of such medications.
- Alternative treatments
Herbal supplements and acupuncture have been widely used for chronic migraines, and the results have been mixed. Some patients report meaningful benefits, reduced symptoms, and reduced frequency of migraines with the help of these alternative treatments. Medical science, however, has yet to confirm the usefulness of alternative treatments for migraine attacks.
- Pain medications
The list of pain medications for migraine relief is extensive. The most common types of medications used (either during or after the onset of a migraine) are:
- Over the counter pain relievers (e.g. aspirin or ibuprofen)
- Triptans, Ergots or Glucocorticoids
- Medications specifically used for nausea
- Narcotic/opiod medications
Patients who suffer migraines should avoid asking for narcotics when they have a migraine attack. These are habit-forming drugs with serious side effects, and should only be used when no other treatment is working.
In extreme cases where the migraine is severe and the patient is not responding to other treatments, it may be possible to receive an injection from your doctor or urgent care center. Botox, Sarapin, Demerol and Toradol may be used (in the form of an intramuscular injection) when no other treatment is working. Demerol and Toradol in particular are considered last resort treatments, and some medical professionals believe they might actually worsen migraine attacks in the long run.
Getting the Help You Need for Migraines
Knowing the breadth and scope of treatments available to you is a good first step to keeping your migraine attacks under control. General nutrition, wellness, and environmental factors also play a key role in limiting the severity and frequency of migraine headaches.