If you're battling frequent migraines, relief is in sight. It's possible to
reduce the number of headaches by one-half, maybe more.
In recent years, doctors have discovered that certain drugs -- found among
epilepsyepilepsy, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, and
antidepressant medicines -- can reduce headache frequency and severity.
In 50% of cases, ocular migraines cause temporary and dramatic visual disturbance. In the other half of cases, ocular migraines can cause lesser vision disturbances such as:
Partial vision loss
Scotomas, or a blank spots in your vision
Flashes of light
Ocular migraines are usually brief, lasting less than five minutes. However, they can last up to 30 minutes. Forty-one percent of people have a headache during the vision loss. Twenty-five percent have it before...
These drugs are believed to affect blood vessel and brain chemical activity
involved in migraines. "We're not clear on exactly how these drugs work to
prevent migraines, but we've had good success with them," says George R.
Nissan, DO, director of research for the Diamond Headache Clinic in
The pattern of migraine frequency is an important factor in treatment. Most
migraine sufferers have four to six headaches a month. "Some have tension
headaches every day – a background headache -- plus migraines,"
Relentless migraines take a heavy toll on quality of life. "People lose
jobs, drop out of school, get divorced," Nissan tells WebMD. "There can
be a lot of depressiondepression and anxiety. Lives have been turned
upside down by these headaches."
That's where preventive treatment can help, he says. Some people can
eventually become headache-free, but that's pretty rare, says Nissan. "More
often than not, we're helping people to be functional. We work to minimize, as
much as possible, the frequency and severity of migraines."
The question is, how?
Migraine Treatment: Your Game Plan
Preventive medications have helped greatly, says Jerome Goldstein, MD,
director of the San Francisco Clinical Research Center and Headache Clinic.
"In our clinical trials of these drugs, we have achieved 50% to 60%
reduction in migraine frequency and severity."
However, the preventive drugs aren't perfect. They must be taken every day
to be effective. Also, some brand-name preventive medications can be costly.
Many have side effects -- including weight gain, fatiguefatigue, sleepiness, numbness, tingling, and
If you have other health problems or take other medications, you might be
limited in the preventive drugs you can use, says Nissan. However, if you have
a seizure disorder like epilepsyepilepsy or high
blood pressurehigh blood
pressure, your migraine medication can overlap in treating that