Prevention of Migraine


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Prevention list: Methods of prevention of Migraine mentioned in various sources includes those listed below. This prevention information is gathered from various sources, and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Migraine.

Prevention of Migraine: For headaches that occur three or more times a month, preventive treatment is usually recommended. Drugs used to prevent classic and common migraine include methysergide maleate, which counteracts blood vessel constriction; propranolol hydrochloride, which stops blood vessel dilation; amitriptyline, an antidepressant; valproic acid, an anticonvulsant; and verapamil, a calcium channel blocker.

Antidepressants called MAO inhibitors also prevent migraine. These drugs block an enzyme called monoamine oxidase which normally helps nerve cells absorb the artery-constricting brain chemical, serotonin. MAO inhibitors can have potentially serious side effects—particularly if taken while ingesting foods or beverages that contain tyramine, a substance that constricts arteries.

Many antimigraine drugs can have adverse side effects. But like most medicines they are relatively safe when used carefully and under a physician's supervision. To avoid long-term side effects of preventive medications, headache specialists advise patients to reduce the dosage of these drugs and then stop taking them as soon as possible.1

Because stress often triggers migraines, women who are habitual sufferers should learn relaxation and stress management techniques. These are especially helpful in aborting headaches when warning signs are felt. Massage, relaxation exercises of the neck, shoulder, and jaw muscles may all be helpful. Rest in a dark room with cool compresses can prevent the headache. Foods such as alcohol, aged cheeses, chocolate, fermented or marinated foods, MSG, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, and caffeine all may trigger headaches; diet should be monitored to reduce or eliminate intake of these. Nicotine may cause migraine - yet another good reason to give up smoking! In summary, each woman's migraine pain, her triggers, and her "headache calendar" (when headaches tend to occur) are unique. Treatments are also unique for each case. Women need to consider their individual triggers, lifestyle issues such as stress level and eating habits, and their own preferences for medication as they and their physicians choose treatments.2

Footnotes:
1. excerpt from Headache - Hope Through Research: NINDS
2. excerpt from MIGRAINE HEADACHES: NWHIC

Last revision: June 2, 2003

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