The words describing migraine treatment often sound more like military tactical strike strategies than medical therapies: Preemptive! Preventative! Acute!
From lifestyle management, to medication and migraine procedures, your most effective weapon depends on the type of headache you are battling. Do you experience episodic migraines with mild symptoms? Are your headaches chronic, severe and accompanied by nausea and aura? As with most complicated things, when you break them down they are pretty straightforward and make perfect sense.
These are your defensive maneuvers or choices when a migraine attack is on its way. Ergotamines and, the more advanced, triptans are the classes of drugs, which are prescribed to stop the progression of pain in the earliest stages of an attack. Research studies show that triptans may be quite effective when consumed early during the aura phase.
Triptans may also be taken if the migraineur knows she is being exposed to one of her known triggers. For example, if she plans air travel, and knows altitude is one of her triggers based on her migraine history, she can start taking triptans a couple of days prior to flying.
If the migraineur missed his ‘window of opportunity’ to head off the early migraine pain progression, he needs to reach for those painkillers, now that he is in the throes of pain, nausea and other symptoms. Analgesics or NSAIDs are the first line of defense. When these non-prescription drugs fail to ease the pain, it’s time to pull out the big drug guns.
Opioids may be prescribed for certain individuals who experience severe pain and are not likely to overuse these highly addictive drugs that often cause drowsiness and impaired functioning. Anti-emetics may also be used to relieve nausea.
Anti-seizure drugs and beta-blockers are types of drugs that are prescribed off-label to ward off migraines in certain individuals who experience frequent headaches. These drugs might be the best option for migraineurs who don’t benefit from other drugs or cannot tolerate their side effects. Certain migraine sufferers cannot tolerate any medication, or continue to suffer with symptoms despite all attempts at conservative and interventional therapies.
Migraine procedures involving Botox injections or implanted neurostimulation devices might be the appropriate preventative migraine treatment for individuals with chronic migraines and severe symptoms.
So it is clear that a great migraine battle strategy depends on choosing the right tactics and weapons, and doing so in a timely manner. In past blogs we learned about the importance of expeditious migraine treatment in avoiding increased migraine frequency and symptom severity. Your migraine condition is unique — your optimal migraine battle strategy must also be unique.