There are two purposes of medications for migraines: relieve the symptoms during migraine attacks and prevent the attacks from happening in the first place. For infrequent migraines, drugs can be taken at the first sign of a headache in order to stop it or to at least ease the pain. For headaches that occur two or more times a week, preventive medicine is usually recommended.
There are basically two types of migraine medications: those used to treat migraine headaches that have already started and those used to prevent them from starting in the first place.
Many people with migraines use both approaches. To prevent future attacks, they take medicines originally developed for epilepsy and depression. To treat attacks when they happen, they take medications that relieve pain and restore function.
People who get occasional mild-to-moderate migraines may benefit by taking certain medicines at the start of an attack. There are a variety of migraine medications in this category. Some medications are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription.
Following are some examples of drugs used to treat infrequent migraines that are mild to moderate in severity:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
- Aspirin (Ecotrin®, Bayer®, Anacin®)
- Aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine (Excedrin® Extra Strength, Excedrin® Migraine)
- Isometheptene mucate, chloralphenazone, and acetaminophen (Midrin®, Migratine®)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can include:
- Celecoxib (Celebrex®)
- Diclofenac (Cataflam®, Voltaren®)
- Etodolac (Lodine®, Lodine® XL)
- Flurbiprofen (Ansaid®)
- Ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®, Advil® Migraine)
- Indomethacin (Indocin®, Indocin SR®)
- Meclofenamate (Meclomen®)
- Meloxicam (Mobic®)
- Nabumetone (Relafen®)
- Naproxen (Naprosyn®) or naproxen sodium (Aleve®, Anaprox®, Naprelan®)
- Oxaprozin (Daypro®)