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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Migraine Headaches - Topic Overview

How are they treated?

You can't cure migraines. But medicines and other treatments may help you feel better and limit how often you get migraines.

At first, your doctor may want you to try an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Brand names include Advil, Aleve, Bayer, and Tylenol. Some over-the-counter medicines (for example, Excedrin) combine acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

If these medicines don't work, your doctor can prescribe stronger medicine to stop the migraine. Your doctor also may prescribe medicine to prevent migraines.

You may not be able to use some medicines if you are pregnant or have other health problems, such as heart problems.

If the first medicine doesn't work, ask your doctor if you can try something else. It may take time to find what works best for you.

Some people also use other kinds of treatments, such as acupuncture. These may help reduce the pain or the number of migraines you have.

When you feel a migraine coming on:

  • Stop what you are doing, and take your medicine. Don't wait for the migraine to get worse. Take your medicine exactly as your doctor told you to.
  • Rest in a quiet, dark room. Close your eyes, and try to relax or go to sleep. Don't watch TV or read. Put a cold pack or cool cloth on the painful area.

Be careful when you use your migraine medicines. Taking them too often can cause you to get another headache when you stop taking the medicine. This is called a rebound headache. If you are taking headache medicine more than 2 days a week, or if you get more than 3 headaches a month, talk to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about migraine headaches:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Living with migraines:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 22, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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