Headache

Updated 07 December 2015

The best medication for migraines

Researchers have recently reviewed medications used to treat migraines and these are options that proved most effective.

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The best medications to use if you suffer migraine headaches are listed in a new study.

Researchers reviewed recent scientific literature and concluded that a number of classes of drugs were effective for treating acute migraine.

These include triptans (sumatriptanzolmitriptanrizatriptan, naratriptan and eletriptan), dihydroergotamine (DHE) and many NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen). Also on the list: butorphanol nasal spray, and the combination medications sumatriptan/naproxen and paracetamol/aspirin/caffeine.

Several other medications are "probably effective" or "possibly effective," according to the study in the January issue of the journal Headache.

While powerful opioid pain drugs such as butorphanol, codeine/paracetamol and tramadol/paracetamol are likely effective migraine treatments, they are not recommended for regular use, the researchers said.

The study will form the basis of new American Headache Society guidelines for the treatment of migraine.

"We hope that this assessment of the efficacy of currently available migraine therapies helps patients and their physicians utilise treatments that are the most appropriate for them," said study co-author Dr. Stephen Silberstein in a society news release. He is a professor of neurology and director of the Jefferson Headache Center of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

When selecting a medication for migraine patients, doctors must consider the medicine's effectiveness and possible side effects, the researchers said.

Migraines affect about 20% of the global population. This indicates that approximately 9 million South Africans suffer from migraines.

Read more:
Migraines linked to a higher risk of 'silent' strokes
FDA approves new migraine device

Brain differences in people with migraines


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Dr Elliot Shevel is a South African migraine surgery pioneer and the founder and medical director of The Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. The Headache Clinic is a multidisciplinary practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of Primary Headaches and Migraines. Dr Shevel is also the main author of all scientific publications generated by his team. He recently won a high level science debate in which he was able to prove that the current migraine diagnosis and classification is not based on data. Tertiary Education - Dr Shevel holds both Dental and Medical degrees, and practises as a specialist Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeon. Follow the Headache Clinic on Twitter@HeadacheClinic.

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