DENVER (CBS4) – Some relief could be on the way for the millions of Americans who suffer from migraines. The American Academy Of Neurology has released a list of medications and treatments that can help prevent those debilitating headaches.
An estimated 36 million Americans suffer from migraines. Medications and treatments would help about 40 percent who have them frequently, but very few currently use them.
Jessica Rodriguez has been suffering from migraines since she was a teenager.
“(It’s) like a railroad train is running right through you,” Rodriguez said. “It’s really bad.”
She used to get them about five times a month. But as the mother of twin 4-year-old boys, she couldn’t afford to let the painful headaches slow her down.
“I used to shut down for a couple days but now I can’t do that,” she said.
Rodriguez’s doctors put her on a daily dose of Topamax to stop the migraines before they start. It’s part of new preventative guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology.
“What we find when patients do go on these medications, it decreases the frequency and often the severity as well by about 50 percent,” Dr. Larry Newman at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York said.
Along with topiramate, or Topamax, the guidelines say other seizure medications like divalproex sodium, or Depakote, can be used to prevent migraines, as can certain beta-blockers, herbal products like butterbur, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories including ibuprofen and naproxen.
“What we think the medications do is that they dampen down the brain’s ability to generate the headache,” Newman said.
Experts caution even over-the-counter medications have side effects, so consult a doctor before starting any treatment.
Rodriguez says taking Topamax has changed her life.
“It really calmed my headaches a lot,” she said.
Now she has more time and energy for her boys.
Doctors say those who have frequent migraines that they leave unchecked will become more and more frequent until they occur on a daily basis at which point they become much more difficult to treat.