Medication for Migraine in Adults

Many people with migraines may be able to control their symptoms with medication. NYU Langone experts can develop a personalized medication plan to address and try to prevent ongoing migraine attacks.

Medication prescribed for migraines falls into one of two categories: preventive, which means it’s taken on a daily basis to decrease the frequency of migraines, or abortive, meaning it’s taken during a migraine attack to counteract the pain.

Preventive Medications

Several types of medications, including antiepileptic medications, antidepressants, and those used to control blood pressure, can effectively prevent migraines. You and your doctor decide on a medication plan based on your symptoms, your medical history, and the results of diagnostic tests, with the goal of preventing future migraines and lessening the associated pain.

Preventive medication is typically prescribed on a trial basis to manage migraine symptoms. Some people take medication for 6 to 12 months and are able to taper off the medication and eventually live without headache pain.

Your doctor closely monitors your response to medication to provide optimal pain relief and to minimize side effects, such as lethargy, dry eyes or mouth, or dizziness.

Abortive Medications

Abortive medications are intended to be used only as needed—when you are experiencing a migraine attack. They are taken at the first sign of a migraine.

Common types of abortive medications include over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications—such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen—as well as a class of prescription medications called triptans.

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