Migraine Medications for More Severe or Frequent PainFor most migraine sufferers, stronger medicines may be necessary to control the pain. In these cases, your healthcare provider may recommend one of three classes of medications:
- Ergot medications
- Opioid medicines.
Triptans are one of the most commonly used classes of medicines for the relief of migraine symptoms. They can help relieve symptoms by narrowing blood vessels in the head that become dilated during a migraine headache. For optimal benefit, these medications are taken during the early stages of an attack.
Triptans are available in various forms, including tablets, injections, and nasal sprays. Side effects of the medicines will vary, depending on the specific form of triptan, but may include:
- Dry mouth
Triptans cannot prevent migraines.
Some examples of triptans used for treating migraines include:
- Almotriptan (Axert®)
- Eletriptan (Relpax®)
- Frovatriptan (Frova®)
- Naratriptan (Amerge®)
- Rizatriptan (Maxalt®)
- Sumatriptan (Alsuma™, Imitrex®, Sumavel®, Zecuity™) or sumatriptan/naproxen sodium (Treximet®)
- Zolmitriptan (Zomig®).
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking a triptan if you have:
- Heart problems of any kind, especially a history of heart disease, angina, an irregular heart rhythm, or a heart attack
- A history of stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA or "mini-stroke"), or other bleeding in the brain (such as a subarachnoid hemorrhage)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Certain blood vessel conditions, such as peripheral vascular disease, ischemic bowel disease, or Raynaud's phenomenon
- Kidney or liver problems
- A history of seizures or epilepsy
- Gone through menopause
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Another class of medications for migraines is known as ergotamines, or ergots for short. Ergotamines are a good choice for people who have moderate-to-severe migraines that do not respond to other pain medicines, or who have significant side effects from triptans. Because ergotamines may cause nausea, an anti-nausea medicine may also be prescribed.
Some examples of ergot medications used for migraine treatment include:
- Dihydroergotamine (Migranal®)
- Ergotamine (Cafergot®, Ergomar®).