Taking Analgesics at the First Sign of A Migraine
Taking analgesics at the first sign of a migraine
For migraine sufferers, prompt treatment can often make all the difference and keep the pain from becoming severe. Here are a few tips to help you understand when it’s advisable to take medication.
Researchers have found around 70% of migraine sufferers in one study had noticeable symptoms prior to migraine pain attacks that could be used to predict a migraine developing.1 The three most common early predictor symptoms were fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a stiff neck.1
Other signs of an approaching migraine can also include:2
- Problems with vision
- Feeling irritable or depressed
- Feeling unusually energetic
- Food cravings
- Numbness and tingling
- Difficulty in speaking.
Over-the-counter medications can be useful for migraine pain relief.2, 3, 4 For stronger pain relief, prescription drugs may be needed.4
Some people find combination analgesics, or pain medicines work well for their migraine pain, these are medicines that combine codeine and/or caffeine with common pain relievers such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen.
However, frequent use of these combination medicines may also cause a rebound effect known as “chronic daily headache” or “medicine overuse headache,” which lasts at least 15 days out of a month, for at least three months.5 If you, or a family member are taking analgesics for three or more days a week, talk to a healthcare professional.5
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers too late – after a migraine attack has already presented itself as pain – can also decrease their effectiveness.2 During a migraine, the digestive system slows down, which can reduce the speed or efficiency of how the drug is absorbed by the body.2
It can help to take these medications dissolved in a liquid.2 and learn to recognise the early warning signs. This will allow you to act quickly, and reduce the chance of a full-blown migraine.
Other things that may help when migraine symptoms start, include drinking a full glass of water at the first sign of an attack to avoid dehydration. This is especially true if a migraine is followed by vomiting.3 Resting or sleeping in a dark quiet room can also bring relief.3 Some sufferers find that massaging the neck and/or temples, and a changes in temperature can help reduce the severity of migraine pain.6 What’s more, applying both heat and cold to the painful area may additionally help.
- Giffin NJ, et al. Premonitory symptoms in migraine: An electronic diary study. Neurology 2003; 60: 935-940. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.
- Lifting the burden. Information for people affected by migraine. Available at: http://www.w-h-a.org/assets/0/E0E0E230-E5CC-D51C-5D382D5DEFA369DA_document/What_is_migraine.pdf.
- US Medline Plus. Migraine. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000709.htm.
- Treatment and management. M.A.G.N.U.M. Migraine Awareness Group. http://www.migraines.org/treatment/treatctm.htm
- Lifting the Burden. Information for people affected by chronic daily headache. Available at: http://www.l-t-b.org/assets/46/914A6C7E-CED1-BB99-72C30EF025F90A0E_document/What_is_Chronic_Daily_Headache.pdf.
- UK The Migraine Trust. Treatment. Available at: http://www.migrainetrust.org/C2B/document_tree/ViewADocument.asp?ID=28&CatID=24