You can find lots of pain relievers for migraines on your pharmacy shelves:
This doesn’t ease inflammation, which is especially helpful for migraines. But acetaminophen is still good for mild pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
They help tamp down inflammation that causes migraines. So they’re often a better choice than acetaminophen.
- Aspirin. You can buy it combined with acetaminophen and caffeine to help with mild pain. Aspirin may cause stomach trouble.
- Ibuprofen. People often have tummy problems with ibuprofen. Avoid taking it if you’ve had kidney issues, liver problems, or stomach ulcers, or if you’ve recently had a heart attack.
- Naproxen. This medication may last longer than other pain relievers. But naproxen might upset your stomach. Always have some food with naproxen to help prevent stomach upset.
A migraine often can make you queasy and throw up. Ask your doctor about anti-nausea medicine to help. Over-the-counter versions can interact with some common pain relievers.
When and How to Use OTC Drugs
They usually aren’t as strong or work as quickly as prescription medications. So it’s best to reach for OTC products when your symptoms come on slowly or are mild or moderate. You may need prescription drugs if you have vomiting or severe nausea.
Too much pain medication of any kind may trigger headaches more often or make them stronger and harder to treat. Doctors call these medication-overuse headaches. That could happen quickly for some people, or take months or years for others.
Limit over-the-counter pain relievers to no more than 3 days a week. If that doesn’t help, or if you get intense migraines on more than 4 or 5 days a month, ask your doctor about other medications.