3 Signs It’s Time to Try Migraine Prevention Medication
Far from being just a bad headache, migraine is debilitating. It’s one of the top five reasons people end up in the emergency room. An estimated 38% of people living with migraine would benefit from preventative (prophylactic) medication, but less than 13% take it. Of those who do take preventative medication, the first try may not bring enough relief. Don’t give up, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with chronic migraine, in which you experience at least 15 headache days a month. Finding the right preventative treatment can be a process, but it’s worth it to get closer to the goal of being migraine-free.
Numerous studies have shown that migraine significantly impacts quality of life. Consider how much your migraine attacks affect your ability to see these day-to-day activities through:
- Family time
- Social, recreational, and leisure activities
Absences and cancellations tend to come with migraine, as well as interpersonal conflict and miscommunication. You don’t need to accept a life in which you miss important moments or can’t perform as desired in your many roles.
Migraine prevention medication can reduce your need for acute migraine treatments, which may not always relieve migraine pain as quickly or effectively as you’d like. Although many people who take migraine prevention medication may still experience some migraine attacks, they’re much less common and can be less severe. Plus, some people who frequently take acute migraine medication may develop medication-overuse headaches as a result. That’s right–by taking migraine relief medication too often, you can bring about more migraine attacks.
Fortunately, medications that prevent migraine can reduce these attacks and stop the cycle. Preventative therapies that can help include:
- Anticonvulsants like topiramate (Topamax) and valproic acid (Depakote)
- Beta blockers like metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard), and propranolol (Inderal)
- Botulinum toxin like Botox
- Calcium channel blockers like diltiazem (Cardizem) and verapamil (Calan)
- Antidepressants like amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Aventyl), and venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
- CGRP inhibitors like atogepant (Qulipta), eptinezumab (Vyepti), erenumab (Aimovig), fremanezumab (Ajovy), and galcanezumab (Emgality)
Migraine is more common in women than men, and the fluctuating hormones of the menstrual cycle are one reason. The first-line medication for menstrual migraines is frovatriptan (Frova), and the second line drugs are naratriptan (Amerge) or zolmitriptan (Zomig).
Some menstrual migraines respond best to hormonal treatment. How do you know if your migraine is menstrual? They tend to occur on a regular schedule, beginning anywhere from two days before your period until three days after. Hormonal treatments can include:
- Combined hormonal contraceptives in pill, patch, or vaginal ring form
- Progesterone-only contraceptives in pill, implant, or injection form
- Estrogen patches or gels
Have you experienced any of the signs it’s time to try migraine prevention medication? Make an appointment with your doctor to start exploring your best first step to long-term relief.