Alternative medications for migraines

Do you suffer from migraines? There are several medications that are designed to treat them. Medications commonly used to treat other conditions also may help to relieve or prevent migraines. Read on to learn more about preventative measures taken for migraines.

Alternative medications for migraines

1. Did you know?

Medications used to combat migraines fall into two broad categories: pain-relieving medications and preventative medications. Also known as acute or abortive treatment, pain-relieving drugs are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms that have already begun.

Preventative drugs are taken regularly to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines, often on a daily basis. Preventive medications can reduce the frequency, severity and length of migraines and may increase the effectiveness of symptom-relieving medicines used during migraine attacks.

2. Calcium channel blockers

The beta-blockers propranolol (Inderal) and timolol (Blocadren) have been approved by Health Canada for preventing migraines. Calcium channel blockers, which are medications that relax and widen blood vessels, and other blood-pressure medications may also help, even if you don't have high blood pressure.

3. Antiepilepsy drugs

Topiramate (Topamax) and divalproex sodium (Depakote) are approved by Health Canada for prevention of migraines. Other antiepilepsy medicines may also be effective. This class of medicine is thought to work by stabilizing the hypersensitive, overactive nerves in the brain.

4. Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and imipramine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine and escitalopram, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as duloxetine and venlafaxine, can help prevent migraines by affecting the level of certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which alter the hypersensitivity of nerves.

Health Canada has issued advisories on taking some of these drugs. Be sure to speak with your doctor about the risks involved.

5. Onabotulinum toxin type A (Botox)

This wrinkle reducer may also reduce your migraines. Although studies have been mixed, some indicate that Botox significantly reduces the frequency of migraine headaches, perhaps by causing changes in the nervous system. The therapy has been approved by Health Canada since 2011.

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