Abortive Migraine Medications Side Effects And Benefits


Abortive Migraine Medications Side Effects And Benefits

What Are Abortive Migraine Medications?

You might be wondering, “what are abortive migraine medications”? Abortive migraine medications you take in the middle of a migraine attack to relieve the symptoms of a migraine attack. After all, there’s nothing worse than waking up to a good-morning migraine attack. In the midst of an attack, abortive migraine medications can be used to stop the attack before it gets any worse. Be sure to take these medications the moment a migraine attack comes on, as the sooner it is taken, the better. 

Abortive medications come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from tablets, nasal sprays, epidermal patches, or injections. Be sure to ask a neurologist or pharmacist about the best delivery method.

List Of Abortive Migraine Medications And Side Effects

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Abortive Migraine Medications

These abortives are easier to get a hold of, and usually require no prescription. They may already be in your medicine cabinet; they include painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and even stronger types specifically made for migraine attacks, like Excedrin Migraine.

It is important to not take Excedrin Migraine on an empty stomach. This helps to prevent potential stomach pain. Also, it is important to avoid caffeinated drinks while taking Excedrin Migraine. This is because Excedrin Migraine already contains caffeine. Consuming caffeinated drinks while taking Excedrin Migraine may cause anxiety or a general “nervous” feeling. However, should you experience anxiety, nausea or vomiting after consumption of Excedrin Migraine, make sure you consult a doctor immediately.

What Are Triptans, And Its Side Effects?

These medications are typically prescribed by a neurologist or physician. They work by introducing serotonin in the brain to help relieve inflammation and improve blood flow, which can help ease a migraine attack. Some of the most common triptans include sumatriptan and zolmitriptan. Some common triptan side effects include dizziness and nausea. In fact, the sensation you may experience after taking triptans is known as the “triptan effect”. Other triptans used as abortive migraine medication includes:

  • Almotriptan (Axert)
  • Eletriptan (Relpax)
  • Frovatriptan (Frova)
  • Naratriptan (Amerge)
  • Rizatriptan (Maxalt)
  • Sumatriptan (Alsuma, Imitrex, Onzetra, Sumavel, Zembrace)
  • Zolmitriptan (Zomig)

However, triptans can cause side effects. If you taking triptans for more than 10 days a month, it can lead to triptan overuse headache. Potential side effects of triptans can include sensations of pins and needles, skin flushing, neck pain etc.

What Are Antiemetics, And Its Side Effects?

Antiemetic migraine medications like metoclopramide or prochlorperazine are sometimes prescribed to treat migraines accompanied by severe nausea or vomiting. Some common side effects of antiemetics include drowsiness, restlessness and muscle stiffness/spasms. Other side effects of antiemetics include:

  • Dry mouth or blurred vision
  • Rarely, movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia)

What Are Ergotamine Derivatives, And Its Side Effects?

Ergotamine derivative medications, such as ergotamine tartrate or dihydroergotamine (DHE), are older medications used for severe migraine. Side effects of ergotamine derivatives may include nausea, cold fingers, muscle pain/weakness etc.

Which Abortive Migraine Medication To Use In Pregnancy?

Acetaminophen is commonly used as an abortive medication for migraine and is considered safe during all trimesters of pregnancy. Acetominophen use is reported by 65% of pregnant women.

What Are The Side Effects Of Over-The-Counter (OTC) Abortive Migraine Medications?

Different people react differently to various OTC abortive medications. When it comes to over-the-counter (OTC) migraine abortive medications, knowing the side effects is important as you have to assess the efficacy of the medicine. The side effects of OTC abortive migraine medications depend on the type of medication. For example, the side effects of Ibuprofen will differ from aspirin.

OTC abortive medications include NSAIDs like Ibuprofen (Advil Migraine and Motrin), Naproxen sodium, Acetaminophen, and aspirin.

What Are NSAIDs?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) are classified as therapeutic drugs which reduces pain, decreases inflammation, decreases fever, and prevents blood clots. NSAIDs include aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, tolfenamic acid, diclofenac, piroxicam, ketoprofen, and ketorolac. Some NSAIDs are considered as Over The Counter (OTC) medications, such as acetaminophen, aspirin etc.

How Do NSAIDs Stop Migraine?

Research has shown that NSAIDs act as an abortive medication by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. NSAIDs also reversibly inhibit cyclooxygenase (COX) 1 and 2. The NSAIDs that inhibit prostaglandin E2 synthesis are effective as abortive migraine medications.

Side effects of NSAIDs include like stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. The side effects of ibuprofen (or Advil Migraine) include gastric ulcer, stomach pain, heartburn, indigestion etc.

NSAID: Acetaminophen

How Does Acetaminophen Work?

Acetaminophen is believed to stop acute migraine attacks by affecting central processes, such as positive effects on the serotonergic descending inhibitory pathways. It also may affect opioidergic systems, eicosanoid systems, and nitric oxide-containing pathways.

Acetaminophen and the combination of acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine have also demonstrated consistent evidence of effectiveness as an acute migraine medication.

Combination medications, like Tylenol contains both acetaminophen and caffeine.

Side Effects Of Acetaminophen

Side effects of OTC abortive migraine medications, like Acetaminophen include allergic reactions to acetaminophen may happen. In rare cases, it may cause liver damage.

NSAID: Naproxen sodium

How Does Naproxen Sodium Stop Migraine?

Naproxen sodium is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used as an abortive treatment for migraines. It stops migraine by reducing inflammation and relieving pain associated with migraines. Naproxen sodium is believed to inhibit the production of prostaglandins, substances in the body that play a role in pain and inflammation. By blocking the action of prostaglandins, naproxen sodium helps alleviate migraine symptoms such as headache, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.

How Are The Side Effects Of Naproxen Sodium?

Common side effects of naproxen sodium include gastrointestinal discomfort, such as stomach pain, indigestion, and nausea. It can also cause dizziness, drowsiness, and headache. In rare cases, more serious side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, or allergic reactions may occur. It’s important to follow the recommended dosage and duration of use and consult a healthcare professional if any concerning side effects occur.

How To Take Abortive Migraine Medications?

Be sure not to take more than two doses of any triptan medication within 24 hours, and take exactly as prescribed and with plenty of fluids. 

Though an abortive may stop a migraine altogether, it may not be able to help with the symptoms of postdrome, or the “hangover” many patients experience afterward. Some postdrome symptoms include fatigue, photosensitivity, and food cravings. Bear this in mind if there are ever doubts that the abortive was successful. Keeping a headache diary may be beneficial to understanding each migraine attack.

You can download Migraine Buddy on iOS and Android!

Preventive Versus Abortive Migraine Medication

It’s no secret that everyone experiences migraine symptoms differently. Hence, each responds differently to various preventive medication and abortive migraine medications. What works for one might not even touch another. But there’s got to be more to managing a migraine attack than laying in a dark room and praying for relief.

Fortunately, there are a few medications available that could help spell the difference between a down day and a great day. Here, we’ll take a look at how abortive migraine medication and preventive migraine medications work, some examples, as well as offer tips for first-time users. 

Never taken any abortive or preventive migraine medication before? Read on for some helpful information! You can record your abortive migraine medications and preventive migraine medications on Migraine Buddy. You can download Migraine Buddy on iOS and Android!

The above article was written by Stephanie Morley, one of our amazing #MBvolunteers.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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