Almost everyone gets a headache at times. However, migraine is a special, more severe type of headache which requires prompt treatment. Once the pain becomes severe, medicines taken by mouth often do not work.
Migraines last from 4 to 72 hours and can occur once a week, once a month or even quite rarely. The headache is usually a severe throbbing pain on one side of the head and is often worse with movement.
Many people feel sick and may vomit during the headache. Some patients notice a sensitivity to light or noise. One in 4 have an 'aura', such as tingling or disturbed eyesight, before or with the headache.
How is migraine treated?
Most people need medication and the earlier it is started the better. People respond differently to treatments and finding the best one for you is generally trial and error.
Two or 3 aspirin or paracetamol tablets may be sufficient (dissolving tablets work faster) and are often combined with a prescription-only anti-nausea tablet. Certain anti-inflammatory tablets can also be effective (e.g. naproxen, ibuprofen).
If these measures fail, a prescription-only 'triptan' tablet (e.g. sumatriptan or naratriptan) may give relief. Triptans are the most effective migraine medication available and work best if taken as soon as possible after the headache starts. A second dose may be needed if the headache comes back later.
Triptans are generally well tolerated but may cause chest pain, dizziness or weakness.
Ergotamine tablets and suppositories are a less expensive alternative. However, they are less effective and may cause nausea.
If all else fails, it usually helps to lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room. An injection from your doctor may be required in resistant cases or for vomiting.
Ask your doctor for more help or visit www.headacheaustralia.org.au.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.Source: Winter 2006 Edition | Page 2
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