Skip to content

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Font Size

Which Drugs Can Keep Me From Getting a Migraine?

Medicines That Prevent Migraines

There's no relief like stopping a migraine before it happens. Several drugs can help prevent pain. Among your options:

Beta-blockers. These relax your blood vessels. You can try as propranolol (Inderal) and metoprolol (Toprol).

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Ocular Migraine

Ocular migraines cause vision loss or blindness lasting less than an hour, along with or following a migraine headache. Experts sometimes call these episodes "retinal," "ophthalmic," or "monocular" (meaning one eye) migraines. This problem is rare. It affects about one out of every 200 people who have migraines. Some research suggests that in many cases, symptoms of ocular migraine are actually due to other problems. Diagnosing ocular migraine requires a health care professional to rule out...

Read the Ocular Migraine article > >

Calcium channel blockers. These include dilatizem (Cardizem) and verapamil. They reduce the narrowing of your blood vessels.

Tricyclic antidepressants. Your doctor may prescribe amitriptyline (Elavil) and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor).

Anticonvulsants. These are drugs that prevent or reduce seizures. To prevent migraines, your doctor may recommend valproic acid (Depakote) or topiramate (Topamax).

Botulinum toxin (Botox). For migraine prevention, this can be injected in small quantities around your face and scalp every 3 months.

Making the Decision

You may want to consider medicine to prevent migraines if you:

  • Have pain that interferes with your life despite treatment.
  • Get at least three moderate-to-severe headaches per month.
  • Take a lot of painkillers.
  • Can't get enough relief from drugs you now take.
  • Have side effects from your headache drugs.
  • Have uncommon migraine conditions like continuing aura (blurred vision or seeing spots or wavy lines).

Preventive medicine might not be right for you if:

  • Your headaches are controlled by anti-inflammatories like naproxen and ibuprofen.
  • Other health conditions keep you from taking preventive drugs.
  • There could be bad interactions with other medicines you take.
  • You prefer treatments that don't involve drugs

If you can't take medication or prefer not to, there’s a device worth considering. Cefaly is the first FDA-approved machine that prevents migraines in people over 18. Worn around the forehead, this portable headband-like device gives out electrical impulses. These stimulate a nerve connected with migraines. You’ll feel a tingling sensation and should use it once a day for 20 minutes.

Migraine Drugs and Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, your migraines may ease up during your second and third trimester.

If you have severe migraines, though, your doctor may suggest first trying a non-drug treatment such as biofeedback, relaxation therapy, or stress-management training. He may also recommend a preventive drug that has the lowest risk possible.

Talk to your doctor about your thoughts on taking preventive medications for migraines. Together, you can decide the best approach for your headache problems.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on January 05, 2015

Today on WebMD

Business woman with hand on face and eyes closed
What aura looks like, triggers, and more.
woman with migraine
Get the truth about migraines.
headache in the bedroom
Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
woman with hands on head
Test your knowledge of triggers, types, and more.
woman with migraine
drinking coffee
Migraines Headaches Basics
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Tired young man
spraying perfume
man with a headache
headache in the bedroom