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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Migraine Headaches - Treatment Overview

You can't cure migraines, but you can use medicines and other treatments to feel better.

The goal of treatment is to reduce how often you get migraines and to stop the headaches with the fewest drug side effects. Your doctor may have you try several types of medicines and may adjust the doses to manage your migraines.

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Migraines are so common, there's a special name for people who suffer from frequent migraines: migraineurs. Yet, loved ones don't always understand the migraineur's condition, and even if they do, serious headaches can be highly disruptive to family time and marriages.

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Find and avoid migraine triggers

You can reduce how many migraines you have by finding your migraine triggers and avoiding them. For more information on triggers, see Prevention.

Keeping a headache diary(What is a PDF document?) is a good way to find your triggers. You write down when you have a headache and how bad it is, along with details such as what you ate and what you did before the headache started. You look for patterns to your headaches. This information can help you know what to avoid to prevent a migraine.

Take medicines

You may take:

  • Medicines to stop a migraine. These are sometimes called abortive medicines. These may be over-the-counter or prescription medicines. If you take the medicine at the first sign that you're about to get a migraine, you may keep the headache from starting or from getting bad.
  • Medicines to prevent migraines. These drugs are often called preventive medicines. You get them with a prescription. You take these every day or whenever your doctor tells you to.

For mild to moderate migraines, you may first want to try over-the-counter pain relievers that have fewer side effects and cost less than other medicines. But if they don't help, you may need prescription medicines. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

If medicines to stop a migraine don't give you enough relief, or if you're taking them more than 2 times a week, talk to your doctor about whether you should take medicines to prevent a migraine.

Try other treatments

You may want to try complementary treatments along with medicines. These may include:

For more information, see Other Treatment.

If you decide to try one or more of these treatments, make sure your doctor knows. He or she may have advice on how to use other treatments safely.

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