Which Migraine Therapy Is A Controlled Substance?

A migraine is not just a headache.  There are three types of migraine and they cause the sufferer great discomfort.  An attack can last between 4 and 72 hours.  They can be chronic or sporadic. Everyone experiences migraines differently.

There are three main types of migraine.  Aura without pain, aura with pain or pain without aura.  Most people feel symptoms such as tiredness, food cravings and mood changes up to 24 hours before the migraine strikes.

If you experience an aura your vision may become blurred and feel numbness.  When the main attack strikes a throbbing unbearable headache will occur.  Eventually, the pain subsides leaving the sufferer sleepy and emotional. Afterwards, it feels like you are having an almighty hangover.

Over the counter painkillers like Ibuprofen and paracetamol can provide some relief.  If these are insufficient prescribed painkillers are used.  Medication containing opiates have been used in the past.  Triptans are the most effective treatment for migraines.  If painkillers don’t work lifestyle changes may have to be made.

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Opiates

 Your doctor may prescribe opiates which are controlled substances used to treat migraines.  They are derived from the opium poppy.  They work by stopping the release of the neurotransmitter Substance P which changes the way your brain understands pain.  Codeine, Hydrocodone, Meperidine and Tramadol are opiates.    You may encounter Side effects such as nausea, itching and drowsiness.  This type of medication is very addictive so are you can only use them on a short-term basis.  If you become addicted to opiates you will find it very difficult to stop taking them. Many high profile people have had their careers ruined because of the negative effects of these drugs.  Your doctor will only prescribe them under strict guidance.

Triptans

Triptans are a relatively new migraine treatment.  They have been available for 30 years and must be taken when you first feel an attack coming on.  Triptans are serotonin 5-HT 1B/1D-receptor agonists they act in conjunction with serotonin in your brain.   They work by relaxing the veins and arteries in your brain and improve blood flow. Sumatriptan, Zolmitriptan, Rizatriptan, Imigran, Maxalt Melt and Zomig are migraine treatments. Side effects include tingling and reddening of the face.  Some people may develop serotonin syndrome.  Your doctor will monitor your health while on triptans.

Migraine Avoidance

There is no cure for migraines.  All migraine medication prescribed by your doctor is a controlled substance.  This doesn’t stop them being bad for you if you take too many.  Migraine medication doesn’t work for everyone. Many people are learning how to control their migraine by studying triggers.  

Migraine Forecasting

Migraine forecasting involves recording everything you do, eat, drink, stressful situations and migraines.  The information is analysed after 4000 days.  So you can make lifestyle changes to prevent migraines.  It is a new idea but is proving to be very effective.

Avoid Triggers

Triggers include foods, drinks, activities, work and medications that cause migraines.   You may know what your triggers are if you have migraines regularly.  You should try as much as possible to avoid them.  If you make a note of the times you have an attack you might be able to change your lifestyle in order to reduce the chances of another one occurring.

Natural Remedies

All migraine treatment is based on relieving symptoms.  Here are some natural ways that may reduce your suffering.  Retreating to a darkened room with an ice pack may help to relieve your symptoms.  You may find spending time in the fresh air relieves tension and reduces your chances of having an attack.  If muscle tension is a major cause physiotherapy may help you to relax all of your blood vessels.  Your job or commute may be provoking a migraine so you might want to consider another career or find an alternative way to get to work.

Natural remedies can be incorporated into your everyday life.  If you avoid triggers and use these ideas you may not need to use too much medication.

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By Parv Sagoo (November 2017)