Learn about migraines

People with Migraines are Often Prescribed Medication

Migraines are typically one-sided (although they may be on both sides of the head). Usually the pain is pulsing or throbbing and is worse with activity. Often they are accompanied by sensitivity to light or sound. Some patients with migraines experience an aura about 30 minutes before the onset of the headache, and can continue after the headache has started (called a classic migraine). The typical aura involves seeing flashes of light, spreading blind spots or irregular lines (zig zags) around the field of vision. Sometimes the precursor to a migraine may be a physical sensation, like weakness, a “pins and needles” feeling in one arm or leg, or even slurred speech.

There are many natural approaches that can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Dietary changes and exercise can help. Avoiding common triggers like sharp cheese, red wine and caffeine is often helpful. But there is much more you can do with your diet to help prevent migraines. Many hands-on practitioners have had great success in treating migraines. Research has shown that various supplements and herbs are also useful.

The drugs that are given for migraine headaches are designed to accomplish one of two things: pain relief or prevention. For pain relief, non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are given. NSAIDs are not a good solution for long-term care, over time they can irritate the GI tract and cause bleeding. Another class of drugs, called triptans, are often the drug of choice. Triptans do address many of the symptoms that accompany a migraine attack, like nausea, sensitivity to light and sensitivity to sound. The first drug developed in this class was sumatriptan (sold under the brand name, Imitrex). Other triptans include rizatriptan (Maxalt), naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), almotriptan (Axert), frovatriptan (Frova) and eletriptan (Relpax). Side effects of these drugs include muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea, and occasionally stroke or heart attack. Other drugs that are given for symptomatic relief include ergotamine (Ergomar), which was commonly used before the advent of triptans.

A variety of drugs are used to help prevent migraines. Most of the time the medications do not completely eliminate the headaches, and they often have side effects. Beta blockers are sometimes used, as are calcium channel blockers. The mechanism is unclear, but they are effective in reducing the number of migraines for some patients. Tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used to prevent migraines—even in patients who are not depressed. Drugs like divalproex sodium (Depakote) and topiramate (Topamax), which are used for patients with seizures sometimes act to prevent migraines. The mechanism of these drugs are unclear.

Drugs, of course, have side effects and are not 100% effective. Whether or not you take drugs for migraine headaches, natural therapies are often useful. The idea behind natural health care is to treat the patient who has the migraine, rather than simply addressing symptoms. Think of it as improving the body’s infrastructure. As the body gets healthier, it has less of a tendency to develop symptoms like headaches. Click here and download this FREE report about natural and common-sense things you can do if you suffer from headaches.