The pain never stopped, except during sleep. The most frightening aspect was that the headache pounded for six weeks without a break.
By the time the lab work and the MRI results were back, it was too late to head off the headache at the pass. For lack of a more precise diagnosis, it was dubbed an atypical migraine, followed by a similar episode five years later.
The most help information on why migraines occur, how to prevent them and which medications are effective in treating them comes from the Mayo Clinic. There is a tremendous variation in how differently migraine patients respond to various treatments. Many find that their best bet for relief is to crawl into bed for a few hours in a darkened room.
For others, however, medication is the answer. Migraine medications are divided into two types: those that help prevent the headaches and those that relieve the pain associated with them. Only a physician can determine which is appropriate for each patient. However, here are five considered highly effective, depending on the patient.
About half of individuals afflicted with migraine headaches could be helped by preventive medications. However, only about 10 percent take them. The three most prescribed include:
Cardiovascular drugs. Beta blockers can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. So can calcium channel blockers (brand names Calan, Isoptin). Doctors also use antihypertensive medications such as Prinivil, Zestril and Atacand.
Antidepressants. The most effective medications help prevent some types of headaches by affecting the levels of serotonin and other chemicals. Examples are Pamelor and Vivactil. The norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) Effexor is also considered effective.
Anti-seizure drugs. At moderate doses, drugs such as Depakote, Topamax and Neurontin can cut the occurrence of migraines.
Two types of medications are most used to relieve the horrific pain associated with migraines:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). They include drugs such as Advil, Motrin and aspirin. Excedrin Migraine is specifically marketed to treat the pain from these headaches. It contains a combination of aspirin, caffeine and acetaminophen.
Triptans. They’re particularly effective for relieving the pain, nausea and light and sound sensitivity associated with severe attacks. They include brands such as Imitrex, Axert, Maxalt, Amerge, Zomig, Frova and Relpax. The newest, Treximet, came on the market in 2008.
For patients whose episodes last more than 48 hours, physicians sometimes prescribe ergot (Migergot, Cafergot). Anti-nausea medications also bring relief to migraine sufferers plagued by vomiting.
Mayo Clinic site