What do you take for migraines?

Hi all. This is pretty much a poll.

I have a history of migraine headaches at various points in my life. I first got them in high school, several times a year for a few years, and through college. They tapered off after that and I went a long stretch (10+ years) without any. The last few years I have started getting them a couple of times a year, then I have had them with increasing frequency to the point where I have had 8 or 10 in the last two weeks.

I always get these symptoms, in this order: aura (1/2 hour to an hour), nausea (soon after I notice the aura, lasts for the duration of the attack) and then pounding localized headache, with sensitivity to light and to noise (2-6 hours).

Needless to say I find them very debilitating.

Way back when (early 1980s) my doctor prescribed Cafergot, some heavy duty painkiller and an anti-emetic. The painkiller blunted the edge of the headache but I find now I can get essentially the same effect if I take two Advil IMMEDIATELY upon noticing the aura (Advil was only available by prescription back then). The anti-emetic is no longer necessary because I no longer actually hurl when I get these attacks. Cafergot I regard as little more advanced then Medieval bloodletting.

I am thinking of telling my doctor all this and asking him to prescribe something but I would like to know what the options are. If he is going to suggest Cafergot or something like it I would just as soon not bother. My attacks have normally not been frequent enough for me to take a preventitive type medicine, and in the past when I had the medications I was only supposed to take when I had an attack I would get them so infrequently that the prescription often expired before the next attack.

BTW I have no obvious “triggers” except for normal life stress. Nothing dietary.

What do you take for your migraines, how often do you get them, and what are your symptoms? Does what you are taking work well?

Mrs. Mercotan takes caffergot also, and it works nicely to abort the headache, if taken soon enough. She’s tried the triptans, but got such horrible side-effects that she said she preferred the migraine. :dubious:

She tried Stadol once, and also swore: Never again.

Your doc, if competent, should be able to help you choose between such things as caffergot, one of the triptans like Imitrex, Maxalt, etc. (I had a patient literally kiss and hug me after giving her a dose for the first time; her migraine vanished in 10 minutes). BTW, that’s what makes the triptans useful. They can resolve a migraine which is already full blown (works better if used within the first few hours).

Excedrin migraine (tylenol, aspirin, and caffiene) can help also, if taken quickly, when symptoms first appear.

Plain old NSAIDS like ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, or others, work for some too, as you have discovered. Sometimes an IM shot of Toradol, a potent NSAID, is helpful.

Beware narcotics! Too many people develop rebound migraines when the narcotic wears off, which then requires more narcotics, which gives more rebound, etc etc

Just a thumbnail sketch, and I really can’t offer my own personal experience, as I’ve had exactly one migraine in my life. But I’ve treated literally hundreds of patients for thousands of migraines over the last twenty years. FWIW


I’ve just recently come to the conclusion that I get migraine headaches. It seems I’m on eof the unlucky women for whom the pill induces migraines. I usually get one a month (not necessarily correspondign with my cycle). I start off just feeling very tired and run down, then I get nauseous. Then I get pain, usually just around one eye and that comes with visual disturbances and sensitivity to light and noise.

I can control these episodes with just Advil and a dark, quiet room. However, the headaches are getting more disruptive and more frequent. I’m planning to make a doctor’s appointment to get more info about them and what I can do. In the meantime, I’m anxious to hear what other Dopers have found useful.

I get 'em at least 12 days out of every 30, Laughing Lagomorph. The symptoms are pretty much as you describe, though without the aura – my right hand gets cold instead. I’d add that about a quarter of my head either feels like a rotten piece of fruit, or the sensation is a bit like someone dripping scalding water on my temple for days on end. Unlike Mrs. Mercotan, though, I’ve hardly ever met a triptan I didn’t love (except Relpax). Imitrex, Zomig, Maxalt, Axert, Frova and Amerge all beat the beast.

I’ve had these things for over 30 years and have tried a bunch of stuff: narcotics, beta blockers, anti-depressants, biofeedback, dietary changes, hypnotism and anti-seizure drugs. For me, only triptans can go in there and turn off the migraine switch. Narcotics and analgesics only seem to mask the pain until they wear off and I am always aware of the migraine lurking underneath. Triptans just kill the thing and it usually stays dead for at least 12 hours. The catch is that triptans are horrendously expensive and, of course, like Mrs. M, YMMV.

Incidentally, triptans can cause rebounding too, alas. The ones with a longer half-life, like Frova, are better in that regard IM (totaly unprofessional and anecdotal) O.

Well, currently I take Maxalt 10mg, the ones that dissolve under your tounge. IMO, this is God’s gift to migraine sufferers. Or at least to this migraine sufferer.

I had a bad reaction to Imitrex. Don’t get me wrong…it cured my migraine in a matter of minutes, it just threw me into a panic attack.

I liked Midrin, but after a few years it stopped working.

Fioricet (sp?) worked well, but like the Midrin stopped after a few years.

Once I had one so bad, Suburban Plankton had to drive me to the doctor’s office and she gave me a shot of Toradol…oh man, I remember how I felt when when it started to work…in like 2-3 minutes. At that moment, I could totally understand how someone could become addicted to pain killers.

I tried a few others in the past that I can’t remember, so they must not have worked well.

Good luck!

Half a bottle of nyquil. Usually, by the time I come to, it’s gone. If not, I take the other half.

I don’t suffer them often enough to worry with prescriptions but god, do I hate them with a passion.

I have had complete success with triptans (specifically Zomig) without any side effects other than a slight tingling sensation in my scalp for a few minutes after dosing. The migraine disappears within minutes without any grogginess.

I will be forever grateful to my doctor for giving me relief from a lifetime of suffering. But I draw the line at hugs and kisses. :smiley:

Migraine sufferer here (hormonal ones.) I find that if I take one Tylenol and two ibuprofen together the SECOND I notice the onset, I can usually beat it down pretty quickly. In my case, my nose gets cold, then one eye socket starts to feel cold - if I drug up after the nose and before the eye socket, I’m fine. If I don’t get to the medicine cabinet fast enough, all I can do is lie down with a blanket over my head and get as warm as possible, then sleep for an hour. After that, I’m useless but pain-free for the rest of the day.

My husband is a cluster headache person, and has only found relief with the injections of Imitrex. However, last year his doctor put him on a program of steroids - prednisone, I believe. I don’t know the dosage, but he takes six pills a day for a week, then five pills a day for six days, then four pills a day for five days and so on. On that program, he gets the auras, but usually no actual cluster headache. On those rare instances when he gets a “breakthrough” headache, he uses the Imitrex.

Qadgop your input is as always appreciated on matters medical. And you are the first person I have ever heard of who has had one and ONLY one migraine in their life…I always thought they were recurring, or one didn’t get them at all. (BTW I consider my own doctor quite competent, he is the best doctor I have had since I was a kid, he is easy to talk to and he actually LISTENS to you! Now I just have to get my butt in to see him.)

A couple of people have mentioned side effects from the triptans. What are some of the side effects? Panic attacks?

I also like to lie down in a dark quiet room when they hit but my work environment doesn’t allow this. Even at home with a rambunctious four year old it sometimes isn’t possible.

Feverfew helps some people, just be careful with it. The AMA has actually acknowledged that it is effective in some cases. There is a thread somewhere here with a link to the JAMA article, but I can’t find it.

I also take Imitrex (one of the triptans) when I get a migraine. It’s a miracle drug as far as I’m concerned.
My neuro recommended Advil Liqui-Gels, as the liquid form gets into your system faster. He said I can take up to 800 mgs. in one dose, but of course, you should always check with your own doctor first before taking that much.

I’m also taking Topamax daily as a preventative. It’s been great, too. The number of attacks and the severity of the migraines has been cut way down. I’ve also made some big changes in my diet. I obviously had a lot of food triggers.

My mother and aunt swear by Imigran. Only thing that has ever helped apparently.

Common side effects:
chest or throat pain/pressure
dizziness, fatigue, asthenia
nausea or vomiting; bad/unusual taste

avoid this drug if you have heart disease.

Most people do very, very well with this med, with few or no side effects.

I take 100mg/day of Topamax as a preventative, and Excedrin Migraine plus as much caffeine as I can get my hands on when a headache happens. My migraines laugh at Imitrex and call it rude names.

I haven’t been able to pin down most of the triggers, although stress is one.

Symptoms vary for me - sometimes it starts with extreme lethargy “out of the blue” - I’ll go from perfectly normal to barely keeping my eyes open in a flash and not know why. Sometimes it creeps up as just a mild headache of the non-migraine variety that turns on me. Sometimes the migraine just starts as a migraine…“Hi, I’m Pain and I’ll be your migraine this evening…” I’ve only rarely seen them coming with enough lead time to prevent one.

When the migraine hits, it always happens the same way - sharp, deep pain centered behind my left eye, extreme sensitivity to light, and vertigo. My dad gets them, too. Imitrex works for him.

I’ve just been given a preliminary diagnosis of migraines (I’ll get the results of my MRI on Monday that will confirm that it’s not something else). I went in last week because my left hand went all numb and tingly along with my headache, and it freaked me out.

She gave me a Toradol shot (which took care of it for two hours, then it came back just as bad). She also instructed me to take a couple Tylenol No. 3’s before bed, which took care of it…for 45 minutes.

So, I had a Neurology consultation, and they ordered the MRI, and told me that, assuming it is migraines, I won’t be able to take standard migraine medications because of the hand numbness. Apparently the weird neurological symptoms are caused by the blood vessels in your scalp (I think he said the scalp) constricting, while the headache is caused by the blood vessels in your brain dilating, and the usual migraine medications act by constricting those blood vessels, which, since I’ve already got blood vessels constricting, could give me a stroke.

So, the neurologist said he could put me on Verapamil preventatively, but since I don’t get them very often, he might just give me Percocet.

I can’t really give an answer yet since I still haven’t found anything that works for my migraines, but this feedback is helping me, so once I find a new doctor I’ll ask about the meds listed here. I tried Topamax with no result and my migraines make a rude hand gesture at Imitrex with cacking insanly. They must die.

I take the Zomig too. And it makes my scalp all tingly. It also makes my neck feel noodly.

I always figured I was the only one with the tingly scalp.

The doc won’t necessarily start you on something major right away, especially if you mention that Advil does the trick. I told my internist that a good dose of Aleve could knock down the migraine pretty quickly if I took it right away, so she prescribed 1000 mg of naproxen (essentially 4 Aleve) at the start, and 500 mg more an hour later if the migraine wasn’t gone.

I’m on 50 mg of nortriptyline per day as a preventative. It’s not working so well any longer (I have an appointment coming up), but was a miracle drug when I started on it. I think there’s room to up the dosage; this dose is very small, so she might want to just increase it and see if that helps, as the boost from 25 to 50 mg did help at the time.

I get occasional migraines. What triggers them varies, as do the symptoms. I have noticed, however, that symptom sets tend to match triggers fairly uniformly, and how to treat myself depends on the whole package. (What? In English, please?)

If there is a significant storm looming overhead, I tend to get the aura and a feeling of pressure on the crown of my head. If I’m smart, a very strong cup of coffee and lots of ibuprofen does the trick for a while, until I can get to my bed. If not, please stop the world and let me die. I’ll be back in three or four days, looking like death warmed over. (Extreme light and sound sensitivity. Do not operate heavy machinery, such as cars in traffic.)

If I am stressed out, my back and neck tense to the point of spasm, and left alone, cluster headaches with light and sound sensitivity, and nausea develop really quickly. Not so fun. The cure is really simple though: I have a window of about three days to get to my chiropractor, followed by a really good night’s sleep and some meditation.

If I am simply exhausting myself, I will feel fine until I hit a brick wall, and then I am non-functional. I am stupid, uncoordinated, unfocussed and illogical. Pretty calm, though. This remoteness lasts for a few hours, during which time I ought to go to bed. If I don’t, then I get the pain in eyes and temples, which radiates pretty quickly. Ibuprofen doesn’t touch this. Oddly, Nytol does.

It’s been pointed out to me that I get dark circles under my eyes (as if I drew them there with purple pencil), regardless of why or how a headache is brewing.

Migraines seem to have run in my family, on both sides. My mother and her mother got debilitating migraines that would last for days on end. My father got them as well. I still remember the time my mother had one that was so bad, she called her doctor at home to meet her at the hospital. She drove there, and they administered a painkiller by syringe, and gave her some pills, which she took, and drove home. Three hours later, with no apparent relief from the dosage, she drove back to beg for some more. They said “How did you get here? We gave you enough drugs to tranquilize an elephant!”

Laughing Lagomorph, I have never had a migraine. As a matter of fact, I have never had a naturally-occurring headache in my life. Not one. I had a bottle of aspirins turn to vinegar-smelling powder from disuse.