What Are The Best Otc Migraine Medications
There are a few main kinds of pain relievers youâll see on the shelves of your local drugstore:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
NSAIDs are less scary than they soundâitâs just the formal term for a very common type of pain medication. You may know these drugs by their individual generic or brand names, like:
These medications treat pain, fever, and inflammation. While there havenât been enough clinical trials to say definitively which one works best for migraine, researchers think ibuprofen may be more effective, and itâs also one of the least likely to cause side effects.
Itâs important to note that you shouldnât take multiple types of NSAIDs at the same time. As long as youâre not taking them too often, NSAIDs typically have pretty mild side effects , but the risk of more serious problems like kidney damage increases if you take more than one at the same time.
You may know acetaminophen by its brand name version, TylenolÂ®. Clinical studies have shown that itâs effective for migraine relief, though since it doesnât treat inflammation in the brain , it may not work as well as one of the medications above. If itâs all you have in the house or you donât like the side effects of NSAIDs, however, itâs another solid choice.
One other advantage of acetaminophen? You can take it at the same time as NSAIDs.
Combination migraine medications
A note on medication overuse headache
Are Brand Name Otc Medications Better Than Generics
You can usually save a few bucks by buying the generic or store brand equivalents of brand name OTC drugs. Some people feel loyal to certain brands or pay more attention to advertising, but whats important is the active ingredients.
If you compare generic naproxen sodium to Aleve®, for example, youll see the same active ingredient and probably a significant price difference. From brand to brand, there may be variations in the amount of the active ingredient per tablet, so pay attention to the directions to make sure you dont take too much.
Heres a quick reference list of popular brand names and the active ingredients youll probably find under a generic label.
- Aleve® naproxen sodium, 220mg
- Bayer® aspirin enteric-coated aspirin 325mg
- Excedrin® Migraine aspirin 250mg, acetaminophen 250mg, caffeine 65mg
- Excedrin® Tension Headache acetaminophen 500mg, caffeine 65mg
- Motrin® IB ibuprofen 200mg
- Tylenol® Regular Strength acetaminophen 325mg
- Tylenol® Extra Strength acetaminophen 500mg
** How To Pick The Best One **
Take This List of Migraine Medications To Your Doctor
1. Copy and paste this entire page, or jot down a few migraine meds that sound right to you.
2. Take this list to your doctor to discuss your options.
3. Experiment . Keeping good records is essential.
Unfortunately finding what works the best can be trial and error. But with the numerous options in this list of migraine medications, you are off to a great start. If you can… start with testing the family of triptans for acute attacks. Then if they don’t work, you can consider these other options.
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Aspirin Acetaminophen And Caffeine
This OTC medication is actually a combination of three ingredients at a fixed dosage. These are:
Each of these ingredients has its own mechanism of action, which weve already discussed for aspirin and acetaminophen. What about caffeine?
When you have a headache, blood flow is increased in your brain. Caffeine can cause blood vessels in the brain to constrict , reducing this blood flow. Caffeine also has anti-inflammatory properties and can enhance the effects of aspirin and acetaminophen.
The combination of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine is available OTC in a single dose pill or tablet.
Like the OTC medications that weve already discussed, studies have been performed on the effectiveness of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine. In fact, some studies have found it to be more effective than alone.
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Avoid Opioids For Migraine
Many people with migraine are given strong painkillers, called opioids, to treat migraines. Examples of opioid painkillers available in New Zealand include codeine, tramadol, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl and pethidine. However, opioids are not preferred to relieve migraines for the following reasons:
- They can make headaches worse. Using opioids for migraine can cause more headaches and chronic migraines than you had to begin with. This is called medication-overuse headache. It is possible with all pain medicines, but is more likely with opioids.
- They are not as effective as other migraine medicines. There are medicines that are better than opioids to reduce the number of migraines you have and how severe they are. This includes medicines called triptans, which work directly on the blood vessels in your head to relieve the pain from migraine.
- They can be harmful. Opioids are strong medicines that may cause you harm, including dependence and addiction. Opioids can cause serious withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them suddenly. People who use high doses for a long time may need to go to hospital while they stop using them. Opioids, even at low doses, can make you feel sleepy or dizzy. Other side effects include constipation and nausea. Using them for a long time can lower your sex drive and cause depression and sleep problems.
Opioids may be needed in some instances.
Read more: Treating migraine headaches some drugs should rarely be used Choose Wisely, NZ
Best Migraine Medicines 2020
That throbbing, aching, overpowering pain emanating from your head isnt just a typical headache its a migraine. If youve ever experienced a migraine, you should know that it can, and most probably will limit what youll be able to get done in a day. Luckily, there are migraine medications that you can easily purchase over the counter for quick and easy relief.
Once you do step into the drugstore and take a look at all the migraine medication they offer, you may find yourself in a dumbfounded situation. Of all the countless options on the shelves, which is the best migraine medicine for you?
Because you deserve something that is effective and fast to relieve your migraine, you should avoid anything that wont work for you. Find out how to choose the best over the counter migraine medicine by following this detailed guide.
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Excedrin Migraine 300 Coated Caplets
One of the best migraine medicine options youll find is the Excedrin Migraine 300 Coated Caplets. These coated tablets have been observed to work almost instantly, offering lasting relief to users who took a single dosage throughout the day.
The formula mainly includes acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine as its main ingredients, which all come together to provide real pain reduction. The acetaminophen and aspirin are both NSAIDS that numb out pain, while the caffeine works to constrict dilated blood vessels that cause throbbing sensations throughout the head region.
While its not exactly the cheapest tablet on the list, many of those who have used Excedrin Migraine 300 Coated Caplets claim that they experienced effective relief after just one use. Whats more, this particular migraine medicine formula is compatible with a vast number of people, making it the first option for many who are seeking a good fit for their particular situation.
Over The Counter Medications For Treating Headaches
Non-prescription analgesics are the most common form of treatment for headaches and associated pain. This can include acetaminophen , which is sold as Panadol or Tylenol, or NSAIDs which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that can also reduce inflammation, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Amcal has a great range of NSAIDs and paracetamol to alleviate pain and discomfort, including Aspro Clear, Panadol, Nurofen, and Disprin.
If your headache is chronic, your doctor may discuss other treatment options with you.
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Is There A Best Over
It depends. Every individual is different. One person may find that acetaminophen works very well to ease their symptoms, while another may note that ibuprofen is most effective for them.
You may need to try several different types of OTC medications for migraine before you find one thats effective.
Its also possible that OTC medications wont effectively alleviate your symptoms, particularly if you experience severe migraine. In this case, a doctor can work with you to recommend a prescription medication that may be more effective.
Which Medications Are Used For Preventing Migraines
Preventative therapy should be considered for patients who suffer from recurrent migraines that cause significant disability, frequent migraines that require treatment more than twice a week, or migraines that do not respond or respond poorly to symptomatic treatments. Currently there are no drugs that specifically target and prevent migraines. Certain blood pressure medications as well as some antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and herbals have been shown to have beneficial effects in preventing migraine headaches. It’s important to understand that prophylactic medicines may not produce any significant benefits right away and maximal effects may not be seen for weeks to up to 6 months.
Although a number of medications have been used for the prevention of migraines, the medications that have been shown to be effective in controlled clinical trials, and are therefore recommended by the American Headache Society and the American Academy of Neurology migraine prevention guidelines include:
The side effects associated with the herbals used for migraines include burping and gastrointestinal issues.
CGRP antagonists have fewer side effects than many other migraine medications and may include:
- Pain at the injection site
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When To See A Doctor For A Prescription Medication
Its possible that OTC medications dont effectively alleviate your migraine symptoms. If this is the case, make an appointment to see a doctor to discuss other treatment options.
There are several types of prescription medications that can help to ease acute migraine symptoms. Some examples include:
- triptans, such as rizatriptan , sumatriptan , and zolmitriptan
- ergot derivatives like dihydroergotamine and ergotamine tartrate
- newer medications, such as lasmiditan and ubrogepant
- antiemetics, which are used to treat nausea and include medications like metoclopramide and chlorpromazine
Another good reason to see a doctor for migraine is that there are prescription medications available that can help to prevent symptoms. These can include:
- certain kinds of blood pressure drugs, such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers
- antiseizure medications like valproate and topiramate
Over The Counter Migraine Medication: Get The Best One
Written and verified by Holly Hazen
Not all over the counter migraine medications are the same. Do you know which one to take to help stop an attack from progressing? They all have different functions in the body. Some over the counter painkillers aim to reduce fever, while others reduce inflammation.
And “over the counter” means you don’t need a prescription from your doctor, you just walk in and buy it at the pharmacy.
It’s important to know the difference so you know which one to choose when you most need it. Don’t make the mistake of just taking what’s already in the house.
Taking the wrong thing increases your risk of overdose. If the painkiller doesn’t efficiently stop any pain, you might be tempted to take more to get more relief. But it doesn’t always work that way. At least not with migraines.
It is important to distinguish the difference between tension headaches, severe migraines, complicated migraines and to use prescribed abortive medications along with OTC migraine targeted painkillers where appropriate.
Your first port of call on this is your doctor.
Just to be clear, all of this means that over the counter painkillers have the potential to make the pain worse for us migraineurs. There are only a chosen few we should consider. Here’s the first one…
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How Do You Know If You Have A Migraine
Migraines are often mistaken for bad headaches. The American Migraine Foundation estimates that at least 39 million Americans deal with migraines, although this number may be much higher since many people do not get diagnosed.2 Migraines are complex disease conditions with accompanying head pain that can appear in the form of multiple symptoms.
Nonprescription Treatment Options For Migraine
Emily M. Ambizas, PharmD, MPH, CGPAssociate Clinical ProfessorCollege of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New YorkClinical Specialist, Rite Aid PharmacyWhitestone, New York
Alberto H. Ambizas, PharmD, CGPClinical Pharmacy SupervisorNorthport, New York
US Pharm. 2016 41:31-34.
Migraine headache is a common, debilitating condition affecting nearly 1 out of 7 Americans annually.1 This condition affects more women than men, and prevalence is highest during peak productive years, between the ages of 25 and 55 years.2 Migraine accounts for the majority of the 5 million headache visits to U.S. emergency departments annually.3 It has a major impact on quality of life more than 90% of migraine sufferers find it difficult to work or function normally during an attack, accounting for more than 150 million missed worked days, with an annual cost to employers exceeding $14 billion.4,5 In addition, migraine headache is ranked as the sixth highest cause of disability worldwide.6
Pharmacists are in a unique position to help care for patients suffering from migraines. They are often the first healthcare professionals that patients will encounter when seeking relief for their migraine as many as 57% of patients self-medicate with OTC products.7 It is important for pharmacists to understand when and how to use OTC products for the management of migraines as well as when patients require referral to their healthcare provider.
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Which Over The Counter Migraine Medication Works Best
Finding out which one works best for you might be trial and error. And… if you have a few that work for you, even better. This means you can use a different one for a different migraine to help you avoid rebound headaches.
I think this is worth repeating… be careful what over the counter migraine medication you choose. Ineffective ones could cause you to take more and risk an overdose. Test them with normal headaches , and dont wait til youre desperate.
Check with your doctor. Here a few notes so you can see the points of difference and what else is in what you’re taking.
Talk To A Healthcare Provider Online
Use telemedicine to connect to a doctor, heres how:
Answer a few simple questions.
Connect directly to a licensed healthcare provider or schedule an appointment at your convenience. A fee is charged by UpScript.
If a prescription is written, you can pick it up at a local pharmacy you choose.
UpScript§, one of many telemedicine platforms, lets you speak with a healthcare provider to see if UBRELVY is right for you, all from the comfort of your own home.
§Third-party website does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by AbbVie.
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What Treatments Can Help Prevent Migraine
Ultimately, the best way to treat a migraine attack is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Thereâs plenty you can do to help make headaches less frequent:
Take supplements and vitamins
âSupplementsâ is really a catch-all term for products like vitamins and minerals you can add to your diet. The ones that research shows may prevent migraine attacks are riboflavin , Coenzyme Q10 , and magnesium. Cove offers a supplement that combines all three called Beam.
Studies suggest stress may be the most common migraine trigger. Keeping your stress level under control by exercising, getting enough sleep, or even using cognitive behavioral therapy can make a major impact on the number of headaches you experience.
Identify and avoid migraine triggers
There are a lot of other lifestyle factors that can trigger an attack, from your diet or menstrual cycle to the weather. If youâre not sure exactly whatâs setting off your headaches, tracking your migraine can help you figure it out. The better you understand your triggers, the easier it is to avoid them, or at least plan ahead for them.
And part of planning ahead is making sure you have the right acute treatments on hand. While OTC pain relievers are a good first-line treatment, if you find theyâre not doing enough, you can talk to a Cove doctor about what other medications might work for you.
Medicines For Nausea Or Vomiting
Examples: metoclopramide, domperidone and prochlorperazine
These medicines are called anti-sickness medicines or antiemetics. They can be helpful to treat migraine even if you don’t experience nausea or vomiting. These are prescribed by your doctor and can be used together with other pain relievers and triptans. Seek medical advice before taking anti-sickness medicines as they are not suitable for some people.As with pain relievers, anti-sickness medicines work better if taken as soon as your migraine symptoms begin. They usually come in the form as tablets, but are also available as a suppository.
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The Four Stages Of Migraines
There are four stages of migraines, and not everyone goes through every stage.1 These stages are called prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome.1 The prodrome and aura stages precede a migraine and are often unnoticeable.2 You may experience subtle changes during prodrome, including mood changes, food cravings and increased yawning.1,2 The aura stage usually affects your vision and can cause speech difficulties.1
An attack is the painful stage of a migraine. Some common symptoms of migraine attacks include:2
· Moderate or severe head pain
· A throbbing or pulsating sensation in your head
· Nausea and/or vomiting
· Pain on one or both sides of your head
· Head pain that worsens with physical activity or movement
After a migraine attack, most people experience post-drome.1 This stage of a migraine often leaves people feeling confused, dizzy or even elated.1,2