Migraines are no fun. Anyone who suffers from these headaches will tell you that at times the pain is simply unbearable. There are treatments designed to prevent the headaches from occurring and these should be considered when the headaches are frequent or severe. I’d like to focus however on the acute treatments, that is what works to stop a migraine from getting worse and take it down to a bearable level.
Before beginning with treatments first thing is to realize that not all headaches are migraines. Usually, you need to have had at least 3 headaches with typical features such as aura, being bothered by bright light and nausea/vomiting with the headache. Definitely, see your doctor before assuming that your headache is in fact a migraine. Worth remembering is that if your first headache happens after you turn say are 40 or more, this is unlikely to be a migraine and might represent something more serious.
At home try Ibuprofen which in my mind is often the least toxic of the antiinflammatory medications. Try to keep the dose under 6oo mg 3x daily. Higher doses don’t work any better and often result in more side effects.
Your doctor can prescribe triptans which are a group of drugs designed to abort migraines. Some need to be self injected; others are inhaled through the nose. These drugs work well but do have some occasional serious side effects. If you have heart problems such as angina or heart attack or have risks for these conditions (high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, smoking or family members with heart disease) think twice about taking triptans as in such individuals heart attacks can result.
There are other injectable medications which work quite well. These include certain antinausea drugs such as Compazine, Reglan, Ativan or Phenergan, ergotamine derivatives, Magnesium and of course the old standby narcotics. Narcotics are very problematic as frequent use can lead to addiction and accidental overdoses are skyrocketing. Also, if you happen to be taking a lot of narcotics migraines may actually worsen. If you can, try everything else before starting on narcotics. Oxygen works for some people.
A recent study has suggested that oxytoxin, the feel good hormone produced during orgasm, sprayed through the nose might be effective against migraine pain. The study was of course sponsored by the drug company and is in very preliminary phases, so don’t get too excited yet.