If you have ever experienced a migraine, you know all too well how excruciatingly painful they are. As such, you will find yourself being very receptive to nearly any treatment that promises relief. For those who have never experienced a migraine, they are akin to headaches; however, they are significantly more painful and can, in many cases, cause nausea and vomiting.
Also, migraines can cause extreme sensitivity to lights and sounds. In this article, we will take a look at what a migraine diagnosis entails and also highlight a few migraine treatments that may provide you with some much-needed relief.
Diagnosing a Migraine
Generally speaking, most people will be able to differentiate between a headache and a migraine; however, only a physician can accurately diagnose such a condition. Before we go over the medical testing involved in diagnosing migraines, it is important to note that some individuals are genetically predisposed to experiencing them.
That aside, physicians will have to conduct physical and neurological testing to rule out any underlying health problems that may be contributing to your pain. Assuming there are no underlying problems, your physician will then perform a series of tests using MRIs, CAT scans, blood test, and spinal taps to identify what may be causing your migraines.
Now that we know what types of test are required, let’s take a closer look at what they entail:
- MRIs — Also known as magnetic resonance imaging, MRIs can be used to provide physicians with an accurate and detailed image of a patient’s blood vessels and brain. It should also be noted that MRI tests can be used to identify bleeding in the brain, tumors, and a variety of other neurological problems.
- CAT scans — Much like an MRI, CAT scans allow physicians to use detailed x-ray images to assess a patient’s neurological health. The information obtained from these scans can be used to alert physicians of infections, brain bleeding, tumors, brain damage, and other neurological problems that may contribute to migraines.
- Blood test — While blood tests are helpful in diagnosing a variety of health problems, it is especially used when it comes diagnosing migraines. Physicians typically order these tests to identify possible infections in a patient’s brain or spinal cord. Blood tests can also be used to alert physicians to potential blood vessel problems in a patient’s head.
- Spinal tap — Spinal tap testing is commonly prescribed to confirm bleeding in a patient’s brain, infections, and other health problems that may be contributing to a patient’s migraines.
Migraine Treatments at Home
Now that we have taken a look at the process of diagnosing a migraine, let’s take a look at a few migraine treatments that can provide some much-need relief.
When it comes to migraine treatments at home, there are a variety of over-the-counter medications, including ibuprofen, which can help alleviate migraine symptoms. However, such medications are usually only effective to remediate mild migraines. The same applies to medications consisting of aspirin, caffeine, and acetaminophen as these migraine treatments are not as effective in resolving severe migraines.
Migraine Treatments and Long-Term Use
Not surprisingly, when someone finds new migraine treatments that are effective, they may feel compelled to take them long-term. However, there are downsides in taking these medications for a prolonged time, especially medications containing acetaminophen.
Although acetaminophen and similar medications are great migraine treatments at home, long-term use can cause a number of problems including
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
Prescription Migraine Treatment
While migraine treatments at home are effective for some people, they don’t work for everyone. As such, many individuals will find themselves scheduling an appointment to see a physician. That said, some of the more common migraine treatments with medication include:
- Triptans — This is the generic name for a class of medications aimed at providing migraine relief by forcing blood vessels to tighten, which, in turn, blocks pain signals to the brain. Also, triptans can be administered via pill, injection, or nasal spray. While these new migraine treatments are effective, there are some side effects worth mentioning; for example, triptans can cause dizziness, nausea, and muscle fatigue when administered via injection.
- Ergots — This is the generic name for migraine treatments that promise relief by combining caffeine and ergotamine, medications that work to narrow blood vessels around the brain. It is important to note, however, that this new migraine treatment provides the most benefits when it is taken at the onset of a migraine. Similar to other migraine treatments in this class, ergots can cause some side effects, typically nausea and vomiting.
Adjuvant Migraine Medications
While prescription medications and over-the-counter migraine treatments at home are effective, sometimes they may not be enough. As such, many people have made adjuvant medications an integral part of their migraine treatments with medication. Here are some of the off label prescription drugs that many people have turned to as a means of easing migraine symptoms:
- Antidepressants — Used as an off-label medication, antidepressants are highly effective in preventing and reducing migraine episodes. However, it is worth noting that amitriptyline is the only antidepressant that has been scientifically shown to be effective in treating migraines. This is not to say other tricyclic antidepressants are ineffective, but additional research will be needed to confirm the efficacy of other medications in this class.
- Anti-seizure medications — Certain anti-seizure medications like topiramate, for example, are effective in resolving a number of migraine symptoms. As a result, many people have made them a mainstay when it comes to migraine treatments with medication.
- Cardiovascular medications — When discussing migraine treatments, cardiovascular drugs can be a great addition to migraine treatments with medication. These medications work as beta blockers and can be used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions that may contribute to a migraine. As such, many physicians have included them in new migraine treatments.
In term of new migraine treatments, off-label medications can be very effective at resolving migraines symptoms and is a great addition to any anti-migraine pharmacotherapy.
New Migraine Treatments and Lifestyle Changes
Although this article has focused on migraine treatments with medication, there are lifestyle changes that you can make that will prevent or minimize the severity of migraines. Some these lifestyle changes can involve finding better ways of coping with stress and getting enough sleep as these are both effective migraine treatments at home.
In summation, if you are struggling with migraines, there are a variety of new migraine treatments that can you, which includes migraine treatments with medication and lifestyle changes. It is important to work with your physician in outlining a treatment plan that works best for you.
Originally published at migraine.support.