What Should You Take If You Have A Migraine?

When most people have headaches, they reach for a bottle of aspirin or some other over-the-counter pain medication. Migraines, however, tend to work a little differently. They don't always react to OTC pain medication the way a normal headache does. And when that happens, people can be left with pain so severe they can't function.

When you add in the nausea that goes along with severe migraines, the last thing most people want to do is take pills that won't help the pain and might just upset their stomach. (If that sounds familiar, ginger tea might be your new best friend).

There is hope beyond the pain relief aisle at the drugstore, thankfully. You will need a prescription for most migraine medications, and some come with side effects of their own. But when you're stuck between blinding pain and low-grade side effects, it's a pretty easy choice to make. In some cases, you can still start with OTC medication, but in others you'll want to skip right to the prescription.

Migraine medication options

The most common migraine medications are those in the triptan family. They are described as pain blockers that effectively shut down pathways in the patient's brain so they can bypass the worst of their migraine (via the Mayo Clinic). Imitrex is a popular triptan medication, also known by the common name of sumatriptan. It's available as an injection, a nasal spray, or a pill. While it is great for some, those with heart problems or a risk of stroke have to find an alternative.

Another option is dihydroergotamines, which are usually meant to be taken when a person first notices migraine symptoms. They can make nausea worse, however, and are dangerous for people with any sort of blood pressure, liver, or kidney issues (according to MedlinePlus). Lasmiditan, on the other hand, can help reduce nausea symptoms but may increase dizziness (via the National Library of Medicine). It's not the best medication if you have to drive or work away from a desk, but it would be a good option for people who work from home or might lose a day off to a migraine.

The best option for each person comes down to their triggers, their needs, and their specific health concerns. Finding that option will probably require keeping a headache log and talking with a medical professional about possible side effects. It's a long process, but worth it for the relief of knocking out a migraine before it knocks you out first.