Preventive therapy for migraine is particularly sought by those who have debilitating and prolonged attacks, which disturb their daily routine. It only helps in prevention and does not help to relieve the headache pain.
Preventive medication for migraine is at times advised to be taken daily for some who suffer from severe and frequent attacks. It may also be advised if there has been an association with a trigger factor such as for a migraine attack before menstruation.
The effectiveness of these preventive medicines varies from people to people. In some, it works well and does help to prevent attacks.
In such cases, you should continue the medicines for some period, which could be as long as six months and then discontinued to see if the migraine returns and whether medication is required again or not.
In some cases, the migraine is not totally prevented but the severity of the symptoms is reduced. The doctor will decide how you should take your preventive medication depending on how you respond to the preventive therapy.
Natural ways to prevent migraine without drugs
The best way to prevent a migraine attack is to avoid the factors that trigger a migraine. Here are the best suggestions:
- Avoid foods that commonly cause a migraine: Such foods commonly include chocolates, caffeine, aged cheese and meats, monosodium glutamate, or MSG, citrus fruits, spicy foods, foods that contain aspartame, and more. MSG is used in foods to enhance the flavor and aspartame is an artificial sweetener.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. They are responsible for migraine attacks in many people.
- Stay well hydrated. Dehydration is a common cause of a migraine headache.
- Do not stay hungry. Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) can give you a throbbing headache.
- Handle mental stress. You can achieve this by practicing meditation.
- Avoid too much physical exertion.
- Avoid certain aromas. Identify them yourself and stay away from them. They could be a certain incense or frying of certain foods.
- Avoid bright lights
- Avoid loud sounds
- Get proper sleep. Sleep deprivation is a culprit in many people
- Avoid drugs that give you a headache
- Avoid staying in the sun for too long
- Certain nutrient-rich, foods help to prevent migraine. They include ginger, olive oil, sesame seeds, flax seeds, cherries, bananas, and spinach.
Drugs to Prevent Migraine
The following drugs are used to help prevent migraine attacks.
Medicines used for heart diseases
It is still not known how these cardiovascular drugs act, but they do help to reduce the frequency and the severity of migraine. It is propagated that these drugs reduce or help in prevention by reducing the production of prostaglandins.
Beta-blocker drugs are used commonly to treat high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Propranolol (Inderal) and timolol are the beta blockers, which are effective.
Calcium channel blockers also help to prevent migraine and also the migraine aura symptoms.
Certain antidepressants help to prevent headaches including those of migraine by their action on the levels of serotonin and other brain chemicals in the brain. Among the antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor) and protriptyline are most effective and more often prescribed in prevention. Other antidepressants like SSRIs and SNRIs are not so effective.
Some anti-seizure drugs, which help to reduce and/or prevent migraine, include gabapentin (Neurontin), topiramate (Topamax), valproic acid (Depakote). How they help or act is still not known. However, these drugs are not without side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and hair loss.