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Treatments of Migraine Headaches

Updated: Monday, May 24,2010, 12:05:07 PM
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Various treatments are being tried to control migraines. Some people who experience the aura before a migraine report being able to stop the attack by finding a quiet dark place to use biofeedback. Stress management techniques such as exercise also work for some people.

Some women have had success with hormonal therapy. According to the American Medical Association, many women who get migraines link the attacks to their menstrual cycles; so fluctuating and/or declining estrogen levels may play a role.

Medications can also be used. Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can also be effective but have gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach upset, heartburn and gastritis.

There are several types of prescription medications. Ergotamine used to be one of the most frequently used drugs to stop migraines. According to the National Headache Foundation though, ergotamine should not be used too much because it can produce what's called a rebound headache if it's stopped following prolonged use. Sometimes hospitalization is needed to break the dependency.

Triptans are a more commonly used prescription medication for migraines. According to NINDS, the class of migraine drugs called triptans seems to act on the natural brain chemical serotonin. Triptans can be helpful with pain, as well as nausea and light sensitivity. Studies have also shown that this class of drugs makes the blood vessels in the brain contract, according to the National Headache Foundation. There are concerns that triptans, as well as ergot-type drugs, also affect blood vessels in the rest of the body, so they may not be advisable for people with blood and heart problems.

There are also preventive medications which can be taken daily, or when a known trigger is approaching. These medications include beta-blockers, antidepressants and certain anti-seizure medications.  Some of these medications can cause serious side effects, so discuss all possibilities with your doctor.

If you are experiencing migraines, talk with your doctor about prevention and treatment. Also remember that head pain can be a sign of a more serious problem, so if you get frequent headaches, or a sudden severe headache, see a doctor at once.

Tags: Migraine Headaches

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