Finding the best migraine medicine can be a difficult choice since there are so many to choose from. Those that suffer regular mild migraines will usually take a simple over-the-counter (non-prescription or OTC) pain killer. There are many analgesic OTC medications available. With regards to migraine medicine, OTC analgesics can be safer and just as effective for the short term relief of migraine headaches. Besides using them just for migraines, they are also commonly used for pains, muscle ache, menstrual cramps, and fever when used as directed.
There are two main classes of OTC analgesics and these are non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen is a migraine medicine that reduces fever and pain by acting on the brain’s pain centers. It is better for the stomach and better tolerated than NSAIDs. If used in high doses or very frequently over a prolonged period it can cause liver damage. In conjunction with regular consumption of alcohol this migraine medicine can result in some serious damage to the liver. It is also bad for the kidneys in large doses. Make sure you follow the recommendations on the packaging or the advice of your doctor; avoid over dosage and overly frequent use.
For migraine medicine, NSAIDs can be divided into 2 categories: aspirin and non-aspirin. Examples of non-aspirins include ibuprofen (includes Advil, Nuprin, Motrin and Medipren), and naproxen sodium. Also there exists NSAIDs that are prescription only that are generally used for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, like bursitis and tendonitis. The big difference between the two is that prescription medicine will have about twice the amount of active ingredient than a non-prescription medication.
The mechanism of migraine medicines like NSAIDs is the result of lessening inflammation that results in pain. There is a difference between these and other anti-inflammatory substances like corticosteroids. Corticosteroids have potential side effects but can be good at inflammation relief. Side effects can be bad after long term use and the beneficial effects sometimes take days or hours. NSAIDs do not have any of these unpleasant effects and can act a lot faster.
Things such as Aspirin, Aleve, Advil, and Motrin are good NSAIDs that can be effective migraine medicine. Aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs act differently on the blood clotting action of blood platelets. Aspirin will lessen blood clotting and can result in more bleeding, although this can benefit the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Substances such as acetaminophen, caffeine, and aspirin can also be found in combination OTC analgesics which form parts of migraine medicines. These are commonly referred to as combination analgesics such as Excedrin, Fiorect and Fiorinal.
Finding an effective migraine medicine can often be a process of trial and error because of an individual’s response to different medications. In general, you should try to use something that has worked in the past. This will better the chance that it will be effective and lessen any possible side effects.
As with any medical issue, including the treatment of migraine headaches, it is always the proper decision to consult your physician before beginning any form of treatment.