Heading Off Migraines

Chronic headaches can ruin your day—and your life. Here’s help that works.


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In the U.S., more than 37 million people suffer from migraines, according to Migraine.com. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

Do you or a loved one have chronic migraines? Don’t give up! Evidence-based treatment guidelines released by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society strongly endorse seven prescription beta-blockers and seizure drugs [see chart: Proof Positive] and one herbal preparation (butterbur) for preventing migraines and lessening symptoms when they do occur. And even Botox, better known for erasing age lines, got the thumbs-up in 2010.

Research also shows that managing common triggers (such as foods, stress, and bright lights), eating well, and getting enough sleep help prevent migraine pain. “But when the steps you can take without going to a doctor don’t work, prescription medicines are well worth exploring,” says Stephen D. Silberstein, M.D., of Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

The point is to do something: Migraines are often undertreated, says Dr. Silberstein. It is estimated that only about one-third of migraine sufferers who could benefit from preventive treatments currently use them.

Click here to review all the guidelines.

Proof Positive

Prevent migraines with regular doses of these Rx drugs:

  • Seizure medicines: Divalproex sodium (Depakote), sodium valproate (Depacon), and topiramate (Topamax). Frovatriptan (Frova) prevents menstrual migraine.
  • Beta-blockers: Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), propranolol (Inderal), and timolol (Blocadren).

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