Pharmacy Corner
Migraines: What a Pain! Treating a migraine
Migraine

You can treat a migraine with lifestyle changes and/or medications.

What medications can I buy without a prescription to help relieve my migraine?

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen/Advil®, naproxen/Aleve®)
  • Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)

Follow the instructions on the package and talk to your pharmacist before starting any pain medication for your headaches.

Tip!

Tip!

Pain relief medications should always be taken at the first sign of a migraine because they tend to work better.

Which over-the-counter medication works the best?

Ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetylsalicylic acid all work to lower pain and inflammation. They are a good option for the treatment of mild-moderate migraine headaches.10 Both ibuprofen and naproxen are great options because they work very quickly. Acetaminophen is another option for migraines but tends to not work as well as ibuprofen or naproxen, but can be considered as an alternative for migraine headaches.10

Doctor
Ask your pharmacist

Tip!

Ask your pharmacist which medication is right for you!

If you have any chronic medical conditions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before using an anti-inflammatory medication. When in doubt, acetaminophen is a safer choice as long as you don’t take more than what is listed on the label.

What if the over-the-counter migraine medication doesn’t work?

Your doctor can provide you with a prescription for a stronger migraine medication if the over-the-counter medications are not working. The most commonly prescribed medications for migraines are triptans. If you have migraine pain that is not relieved with over-the-counter medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for more information on prescription migraine medications.

What if I feel nauseated or vomit when I have a migraine?

Dimenhydrinate (Gravol®) can help relieve nausea and vomiting. The medication’s packaging has important information. Follow the instructions on the label. Ask your pharmacist to help you pick it out.

Tip!

Contact your Doctor

Your doctor may prescribe other medications for nausea if the dimenhydrinate does not work.


Is there anything else I can do to help relieve the pain during a migraine?6
  • Put a cold ice pack around your neck or on your head for 10 minutes. Repeat every 20 minutes until the pain is better
  • Cover your eyes from the light and avoid any loud noises. Lying down in a dark quiet room works best!
  • If you are vomiting, make sure you drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. If you are nauseous try drinking flat soda, such as ginger-ale, to help relieve the nausea
  • Taking a nap can help. Many people wake up without nausea or a migraine