Migraine Treatments and Therapies

One in Seven people in the UK have migraine. Take our short quiz to discover whether you are one of them
Click here to download our booklet on managing your migraine.

People with migraine often need to make lifestyle changes or take medication to help control their migraine.  This section helps to explain more about the different types of migraine treatments available for individuals. 

Please remember that the information in this section is general, and it is important that you discuss any concerns or problems you may have with your medications and treatments, with your GP or neurologist.

The migraine treatments available are:

Acute Treatments   Complementary Treatments   Preventative Treatments   Self Help Measures

This type of medication is used to treat an attack when it occurs, and is available in a variety of forms. Each will help to relieve headaches and other associated symptoms, which should enable you to carry on with your normal activities within 2 hours. This type of medication, however, should not be taken daily or to prevent attacks.

Different types of immediate relief available:

  • Over the counter treatments
  • Anti-sickness treatments
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Migraine specific drugs

Click on the links below to learn more.

Over The Counter Treatments

Over The Counter Treatments
These are the headache / migraine medications that you can buy over the counter without a prescription:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Paracetamol
  • Caffeine
  • Anti-histamine
  • Sumatriptan

read more... These are the headache / migraine medications that you can buy over the counter without a prescription:
• Aspirin
A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that relieves pain, and reduces inflammation and fever. It is unsuitable for asthma sufferers and children under the age of 16 due to the risks of Reyes' Syndrome.  Aspirin can damage the lining of your stomach and should be avoided if you have a stomach ulcer.
• Ibuprofen
Another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which also relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It is less likely to cause stomach irritation, but it is not recommended for anyone who has high blood pressure, kidney problems or a stomach ulcer. It is best taken after having food.
• Paracetamol
This drug aims to relieve pain and reduce fever. You should experience no side effects when taking the recommended dosage. However, it should not be taken by anyone with kidney or liver problems, and you should not exceed the recommended daily dose.
• Caffeine
Caffeine can help the absorption of your painkiller. Although the amount is only small, it is intended to give you a "lift" and should not be taken if you plan to rest or sleep. I f you are trying to carry on with your daily activities, you will get as much caffeine from drinking a cup of coffee with your painkiller, as you would from taking these combination tablets.
• Anti-histamine
This can help to prevent nausea but can also have a sedative effect.
• Codeine
This drug is an opiate, related to morphine, and is therefore only allowed in small amounts in non-prescription medicine. Even small doses can cause constipation in some people, it can be addictive and, if taken frequently, can cause rebound headaches.
• Sumatriptan
Previously only available on prescription, sumatriptan (also known as Imigran Recovery) is a specifically designed migraine treatment which is available to purchase over the counter from your pharmacist. It contains the active ingredient sumatriptan, which is part of a class of drugs known as triptans. Imigran Recovery costs around £7.99 for a 2-tablet pack.

For migraineurs, speed can be important. Dissolving tablets work more quickly than non-soluble ones. If you are feeling sick, tablets that fizz may be more likely to stay down. Alternatively, you could try taking ordinary tablets with either sparkling water or a fizzy drink such as Lucozade.

Download a booklet on over the counter treatments.


Anti Sickness Treatments

Anti Sickness Treatments
Many people find that strong painkillers have no effect on the severe pain of a migraine headache. Research indicates that the stomach can slow its normal activity during an attack, a condition known as "gastric stasis", when nothing in the stomach is absorbed into the blood stream, and therefore no benefit is gained from any tablets that have been swallowed.
Drugs prescribed and bought over the counter for nausea and vomiting can help the digestive system to work properly again. These are:

  • Metaclopramide
  • Buccastem M
  • Other over the counter medication

read more... • Domperidone
This is available over the counter as Motilium tablets, or on prescription as tablets or suppositories.
• Metaclopramide
This is available on prescription only.
• Buccastem M
Also available over the counter.
• Other over the counter medication
Some people also find that over the counter products (e.g. Gaviscon) can help with digestive problems when taken alongside simple painkillers.
Some migraineurs consider vomiting to be the worst part of their attacks. If this can be controlled, sometimes the migraine is more bearable. By trying to recognise your warning signs early and take painkillers before the pain starts, you have a better chance of preventing your migraine attack from developing.


Prescription Painkillers

Prescription Painkillers
If over the counter medication is not working for you contact your doctor who can prescribe stronger painkillers such as:

  • NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
    For example, diclofenac (Volterol), naproxen, indomethecin.
  • Combination anti-sickness and painkillers
    For example, Migramax, Domperamol and Paramax.

If you would like more information on painkillers please click here to download our information booklet.


Migraine Specific Treatments

Migraine Specific Drugs
Drugs known as triptans, or 5HT agonists, have been especially developed to treat migraine.  They act directly to control the serotonin imbalance, which is believed to cause a migraine attack and, therefore, address all symptoms.  For many people, these drugs bring significant relief, but they are not suitable for everyone.  There are seven types of triptans on the market:

  • Almotriptan (Almogran)
  • Eletriptan (Relpax)
  • Frovatriptan (Migard)
  • Naratritan (Naramig)
  • Rizatriptan (Maxalt)
  • Sumatriptan (Imigran)
  • Zolmitriptan (Zomig)

The triptans are available on prescription only, although one product, Imigran Recovery, is available for purchase in pharmacies without a prescription.
For more information on Imigran Recovery, please visit www.ImigranRecovery.co.uk.
Serotonin (5HT) agonists should not be taken by anyone with uncontrolled high blood pressure, vascular disease, renal impairment, heart disease or a sensitivity to sulphonamides.

They are also not recommended for:

  • people under the age of 18 (12 for Zomig)
  • people over the age of 65
  • women who are pregnant or breast feeding
  • triptans should not be taken concurrently with ergotamine, some anti-depressants (MAOIs), lithium, methysergide or other 5HT agonists

For more information on triptans, please download the relevant booklet by clicking here, or alternatively contact us to request a copy.