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Migraine and Cluster Headache Medications (cont.)

What Causes Migraine and Cluster Headaches?

Many experts believe that migraine and cluster headaches share a common cause that begins in the nerve that carries sensation from the head to the brain (trigeminal nerve). Blood vessels on the brain’s surface expand (dilate), causing swelling in an area and pressure on nerve endings. The nerve endings submit signals to the brain to perceive pain. This may also explain some other symptoms associated with migraines, such as nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances.

What Are the Risks of Migraine and Cluster Headaches?

Migraine and cluster headaches are debilitating and may affect quality of life, cause depression, worsen job performance, and increase absenteeism from school or work.

How Are Migraine and Cluster Headaches Treated?

Migraineurs often identify certain triggers that seem to “set off” a migraine episode. These triggers vary among individuals. Trigger avoidance and preventive treatment with medications or other therapies are important control measures. Migraineurs often report the following triggers:

  • Foods (alcohol, nitrates [found in sausage, bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, nuts])
  • Light
  • Odors (smoke, perfume)
  • Stress
  • Heat or cold exposure
  • Weather changes (sudden barometric changes)
  • Caffeine
  • Hormonal changes
  • Motion
  • Hunger
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Smoking

When migraines occur, individuals often need to lie down in a dark, quiet environment away from any sensitizing triggers.

A headache may be stopped in its tracks with certain medicines. This is called abortive therapy. If headaches occur frequently, regularly scheduled medication may be prescribed to prevent headaches or to lessen their severity.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Migraine and Cluster Headache Medications:

Migraine Headaches - Abortive Therapy

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Cluster Headaches - Abortive Therapy

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Migraine Headaches - Preventive Therapy

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Cluster Headaches - Preventive Therapy

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Migraine Headache »

Although migraine is a term applied to certain headaches with a vascular quality, overwhelming evidence suggests that migraine is a dominantly inherited disorder characterized by varying degrees of recurrent vascular-quality headache, photophobia, sleep disruption, and depression.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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