Mastering the Migraine
Everyone may suffer a migraine headache at some point in their lives but certain people experience this quite often. Oftentimes, it can be disruptive to a person’s daily routine making them sick, missing work, and not being able to live up to obligations.
A migraine is a condition that involves blood vessel enlargement which in turn causes the release of chemicals in the head. These chemicals cause the pain and inflammation one feels with a headache of this nature. Also involved in this type of headache is the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for controlling responses to pain and stress. With the added stimulation, the sympathetic nervous system can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, prevent oral medications from being absorbed into the system, decrease blood circulation, and contributes to light sensitivity.
Migraine headaches can occur anywhere, at any time, affecting both young and old. Learning what triggers a migraine can help control the onset of a headache. Every individual varies as to what these triggers can be. For some it may be caffeine, red wine, or stress and for others it may be too much or too little sleep, bright lights, or hormones. The best type of non-medical treatment would include simple lifestyle changes, adequate sleep, exercise, acupuncture, and good health and nutrition.
The most common treatment for migraines involves over-the-counter drugs. This would include acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Acetaminophen includes drugs such Tylenol which reduce pain by working on areas of pain in the brain. The NSAIDs include drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen which relieve pain by reducing inflammation. Brand name ibuprofen drugs are Advil, Motrin IB, or Aleve.
Some migraine sufferers have pain so severe that over-the-counter drugs do not help. This type of pain requires the use of abortive or preventive medication for migraine treatment. Abortive medications put a stop to the headache by dilating the temporal arteries. Preventive medications are used to prevent a migraine and are taken on a daily basis.
Abortive medications help stop a headache as it is starting. Different types of medication are available. Examples of this type of drug are triptans and ergot preparations. These two types of drugs cause constriction of the blood vessels; triptans affect the head blood vessels while ergots affect the vessels of the heart.
Triptans include drugs such as sumatriptan and zolmitriptan. Side effects of these drugs can include tingling of the skin, tightness of the chest and throat, heart attacks, and strokes. They can also interact with other drugs.
Ergots include drugs such as Ergomar and Wigraine. These drugs are more dangerous than triptans because they involve blood vessels of the heart. Side effects can include nausea and vomiting and can result in miscarriages.
Preventive medication is taken daily to prevent the onset of a migraine headache. Such drugs include beta blockers, tricyclic antidepressants, antiserotonin medications, and calcium channel blockers. Patients who require this headache migraine treatment would be those who take abortive medicine more than twice a week, do not respond to abortive medicine, or have heart disease, stroke, or are pregnant.