The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. Remember that all medications, including over-the-counter, can cause or worsen certain chronic headaches. It is important that you become aware of the alternative treatments, including stress management, which are an important part of treatment. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

    
  • Medications for treating migraines
  • Medications for preventing migraines
  • Other medications for treating migraines
  • Medications for treating cluster headaches
  • Medications for preventing cluster headache
  • Medications for treating sinus headache
  • Medications for Treating Migraines

    Prescription Medications to Treat Migraines

    Dihydroergotamine

    Common brand names include:

        
  • DHE 45
  • Migranal
  • Dihydroergotamine constricts dilated blood vessels. It is injected to prevent or stop a migraine headache. Do not take this drug long-term. Notify your doctor right away if side effects occur.

    Possible side effects include:

        
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feelings of coldness in hands and feet
  • Weakness and pain in the leg muscles
  • Chest pain
  • Risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Phenothiazines

    Common names include:

        
  • Prochlorperazine (Compazine, Compro)
  • Metoclopramide (Reglan)
  • Certain phenothiazines have been FDA-approved for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with migraines.

    Possible side effects may include:

        
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Over-the-Counter Medications to Treat Migraines

    Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

    Common names include:

        
  • Naproxen sodium (Aleve)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin)
  • Aspirin (Bayer)
  • These drugs should not be used if you have peptic ulcer disease, recent bleeding from the gut, kidney disease, or heart disease. These drugs work to control pain and inflammation. Possible side effects include:

        
  • Rebound headache if pain reliever is taken on a regular basis
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Stomach upset
  • Analgesic Combinations

        
  • Excedrin Migraine—contains aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine
  • Advil Migraine—contains ibuprofen
  • Motrin Migraine—contains ibuprofen
  • These drugs also work to control pain and inflammation. Possible side effects include:

        
  • Rebound headache if pain reliever is taken on a regular basis
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Stomach upset
  • Acetaminophen can cause liver problems if taken with alcohol. Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Other Medications for Treating Migraines

    Botulinum Toxin Injections

    Botulinum toxin is made from a type of bacteria. The toxin blocks the chemical signals from the nerves to muscles. This will decrease the muscle contraction. Botulinum toxin injections can be used to prevent migraines. This treatment may also help to decrease the duration and intensity of migraines if they do occur.

    Special Considerations

    Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

        
  • Take your medicines as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Ask what results and side effects to expect. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medicines and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.