When to Turn to Migraine Rx
If natural solutions aren’t working, seriously consider a prescribed medication. “Medications are still the primary approach to effectively treating migraines,” says Audrey Halpern, M.D., a holistic neurologist and founder of the Manhattan Center for Headache and Neurology in New York City. “Some medications actually treat the underlying disease, and some just provide relief from the symptoms. For chronic sufferers, finding relief from pain is most important, so they can go about functioning.”
Over-the-counter pain relievers help control mild migraines by inhibiting inflammation. These include aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin, Medipren) and naproxen (Aleve). Many cause gastrointestinal distress and rebound headaches, warns Halpern.
PREVENTIVES. Anti-seizure drugs like Topamax or Depakote, low-dose antidepressants, anti-nausea drugs, anti-inflammatories or heart medications can keep migraines at bay, but finding the right drug is hit-or-miss and side effects can include weight gain, foggy brain and hair loss.
ABORTIVES. A class of drugs called triptans (such as Imitrex or Zomig) can halt a migraine in its tracks, but can cost $25 or more per dose.
RESCUERS. Opiates (such as Percocet or Vicodin) or short-acting barbiturates (such as Fioricet) can bring short-term relief by masking pain, but may be habit-forming and can cause lightheadedness and other side effects.