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Treatment

Question:

What prescription migraine medications are out there?

Expert:   Lawrence C. Newman, MD, Director, The Headache Institute, Roosevelt Hospital Center »

Sometimes, over-the-counter medication can't stand up to intense headaches. But don't give up--there are prescription options that might work better! Find out what they are in this video.

Transcript: Untreated migraine headaches can last up to 72 hours. Fortunately there are medications called triptans that can STOP the migraine pain, fast. And while they can’t PREVENT a migraine, they can make it a lot easier to handle. TRIPTANS are the FIRST medications created specifically to treat migraines. They work by binding to the serotonin receptors in the brain. There are SEVEN types of triptans. Their generic names are: Naratriptan, almotriptan, frovatriptan, rizatriptan, eletriptan, zolmitriptan… and SUMATRIPTAN, which is the one with the longest track record. It’s available as a pill, nasal spray or injection. The injection is the most effectatious, followed by the nasal spray and then the pill. Triptans should not be taken more than twice a week, because overuse can also cause rebound headaches. The side effects of triptans include, dizziness, drowsiness and heaviness or pain in the chest or neck. And they are not for anyone who has high blood pressure or heart disease. If these don’t work the doctor might recommend that you try dihydroergotamine as a nasal spray or injection. This is an ergot derivative, and while these drugs are not used much anymore, it may be an option if triptans are not easing the pain.There is a third option that may provide relief from a migraine. Unlike migraine-specific drugs, prescription ANALGESIC medications target the PAIN systems in the body, not the headache itself. And in some instances, if a migraine lasts more than 72 hours, a doctor may administer corticosteroids such as prednisone or dexamethasone to calm inflammation. For some people, however, migraine can be relieved using over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin. More »

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