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, 83 (3), 271-80

Treatment of Acute Migraine Headache

  • PMID: 21302868

Treatment of Acute Migraine Headache

Benjamin Gilmore et al. Am Fam Physician.

Erratum in

  • Am Fam Physician. 2011 Oct 1;84(7):738


Migraine headache is a common and potentially debilitating disorder often treated by family physicians. Before diagnosing migraine, serious intracranial pathology must be ruled out. Treating acute migraine is challenging because of substantial rates of nonresponse to medications and difficulty in predicting individual response to a specific agent or dose. Data comparing different drug classes are relatively scarce. Abortive therapy should be used as early as possible after the onset of symptoms. Effective first-line therapies for mild to moderate migraine are nonprescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and combination analgesics containing acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Triptans are first-line therapies for moderate to severe migraine, or mild to moderate migraine that has not responded to adequate doses of simple analgesics. Triptans should be avoided in patients with vascular disease, uncontrolled hypertension, or hemiplegic migraine. Intravenous antiemetics, with or without intravenous dihydroergotamine, are effective therapies in an emergency department setting. Dexamethasone may be a useful adjunct to standard therapy in preventing short-term headache recurrence. Intranasal lidocaine may also have a role in relief of acute migraine. Isometheptene-containing compounds and intranasal dihydroergotamine are also reasonable therapeutic options. Medications containing opiates or barbiturates should be avoided for acute migraine. During pregnancy, migraine may be treated with acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (prior to third trimester), or opiates in refractory cases. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, intranasal sumatriptan, and intranasal zolmitriptan seem to be effective in children and adolescents, although data in these age groups are limited.

Comment in

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