Migraines: Should You Take Preventive Medicine?
What if you could stop a migraine before it even started? For some people, taking
medicine every day can help prevent migraines and make them less painful when they
do occur. Although these medicines may not get rid of your migraines entirely, they
can provide some relief from chronic migraine pain.
You may benefit from taking a preventive migraine medicine if you:
Have 2 or more migraines a month that keep you from your work or activities for 3
or more days per month
Have migraines that don't respond to other medicines or you can't take other medicine
for acute treatment
Have frequent attacks (more than 1 a week)
Use a drug such as a triptan or ergotamine more than twice a week to stop migraines
Have migraines with a prolonged aura
Have been diagnosed with a severe type of migraine, such as a hemiplegic migraine
Have a long-term history of frequent, excessive use of pain medicine or use acute
medicines that make headaches worse
Have menstrual migraine
These are just general guidelines. If you think that preventive medicine could help
you, talk with your healthcare provider. Nondrug therapies to prevent migraines should
be tried first. These include exercise, relaxation techniques, and a regular sleep
Many options available
Many different types of medicines can help prevent migraine. Some of the most common
Your healthcare provider will talk with you about which kind of drug might be best
based on your medical history. It is especially important to discuss side effects
of each treatment, both short- and long-term, interactions with other medicines, medicine
overuse headaches (rebound headaches), as well as possible withdrawal symptoms when
you stop the medicine.
Starting preventive therapy
When you start a preventive medicine, your provider will most likely start you off
on a low dose and gradually increase it if needed. This will help limit side effects
as your body gets used to the drug. If you have any unusual or unpleasant side effects,
tell your healthcare provider. You may be able to take a different preventive medicine.
It may take up to 3 months for preventive drugs to help relieve migraines. Keeping
a headache diary before and after starting treatment may help you keep track of how
well the medicine is working. If you don't notice an improvement, let your healthcare
provider know. It's also important to talk with your healthcare provider before stopping
a medicine. If you stop taking these types of drugs suddenly, you may have more headaches
or other side effects.