How Do You Treat Migraine Headaches?

Migraine affects almost one-fourth of households in the United States, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Roughly 90% of people with migraine have a family history of migraine, but the exact cause of chronic migraine remains unknown.

Recognizing the difference between a tension headache and a migraine headache can be difficult. Like migraine headaches, tension headaches can be very painful. However, there are signs and symptoms that can help you tell the difference between a headache and migraine.

Talk to your doctor if you experience migraine symptoms. There are different ways to treat migraine headaches, and a medical professional can help you find the treatment option that works best for you.

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How do you treat migraine headaches?

Migraine attacks are more than just a painful headache. Migraine headaches are characterized by severe pain, and they last for several hours or several days. One-third of people with migraine experience an “aura”, or symptoms that precede a migraine attack.

You must consult a doctor to properly treat migraine headaches.

Your doctor will work with you to determine the cause of your migraine attacks and develop a plan to manage and treat migraine headaches. Your treatment depends on the causes, the frequency, and the severity of your headaches.

Lifestyle changes

Some factors that trigger or contribute to migraine headaches can be managed by lifestyle changes.

Overuse of acetaminophen, aspirin, or prescription drugs may trigger migraine headaches. Consuming too much caffeine or alcohol may lead to migraine attacks. Some people experience migraine headaches due to changes in exercise or hormones, experiencing too much stress, or a lack of sleep.

Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.  Other lifestyle changes that can help include removing drugs that may trigger your headaches, finding and avoiding food triggers, eating a generally healthy diet, getting regular sleep, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, or managing stress.


Your doctor may recommend medication to treat your migraine headaches.

Abortive treatments help stop a migraine when it occurs.  These include over-the-counter drugs like Excedrin or ibuprofen, prescription drugs like sumatriptan and others, and even electrical stimulation devices.  Caution is needed with abortive medicines, as they can cause rebound headache if taken too often. 

Patients who deal with migraines more than about four times a month may benefit from preventive medicine.  Preventive medications include vitamins like riboflavin and magnesium, drugs like topiramate, amitriptyline, and propranolol, Botox, and the new anti-CGRP drugs. 

Your doctor may recommend medication to treat your migraine headaches. In addition to prescription medication like topiramate or propranalol, there are also non-prescription options such as vitamin B complex, magnesium, and melatonin.


Anti-CGRP medications are a relatively new treatment option for migraine headaches. It’s the first migraine treatment designed specifically to prevent migraine headaches in more than 50 years.

Calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP, is a protein that causes inflammation and pain associated with migraine attacks. Anti-CGRP medication helps prevent migraine attacks by blocking CGRP proteins.

If you have migraines, talk to your doctor about the treatment options.