How do you treat a migraine?

How do you treat a migraine?

How do you treat a migraine?

First things first:

Remember: Tension-type headaches and migraines must be treated differently!

So, listen up for tips for dealing with a migraine attack!

If you’re still not sure whether you have migraines or tension-type headaches, click the link below to review “Headache 101” again!

Your doctor can also tell you what type of headache you have.

1. The bounce test

What can I do when I think I’m having a migraine attack?

First, you should make sure that you’re really having a migraine attack and not a severe tension-type headache.

You can check by trying the bounce test, for example.


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2. Pain medications

Treating a migraine attack with medication works very well for most young people. Talk to your doctor to find out which pain medication and dosage is right for you.

You should only take medications that your doctor has prescribed for you.

You can tell the medication is working when you notice a decrease in the migraine headache after half an hour to an hour.

Two important medication rules

Here are two key rules for the correct use of medication during a migraine attack!
1. You must take the medication as early as possible during the migraine attack!

Our tip: If you have migraines and know which medication is right for you, you should always have the medication with you. This way, you can make sure you take the medication right away.
2. You must take the dosage recommended by your doctor.

Important: If you reduce the amount, the medication can’t work properly. It can also be really dangerous to take too much. Remember, taking more medication won’t work better against the migraine.

Controlling the migraine attack in other ways

Getting enough rest can help control your migraine attack if:

  • your attacks are mild
  • you only have a moderate headache and don’t feel bad otherwise
  • the attacks occur rarely.

To do this, you can lie down and darken the room. If you don’t feel better after 1-2 hours, you will know that it is probably better to take medication next time.


Sometimes, patients with migraines also experience tension-type headaches, which can feel very confusing…

If this is true for you, it is especially important to pay attention to which kind of headache you are having and make the right decision about medication.

When a migraine attack happens, respond quickly and take the right medication.

For tension-type headaches, medications are much less important.

If you notice that you are taking a lot of medication often (more than once per week), then you should discuss this with your doctor, because taking too much medication can make your headaches worse.

You can learn even more about medications for migraine here:

What experts say about medications

Knowing your migraine attacks well can help you take the medication as early as possible. If you experience a migraine with an aura, you can usually tell that a migraine attack is starting before the headache itself begins. If you don’t usually get an aura, once your headache starts, think about whether there were typical signs of a migraine. This can help you tell the difference between a migraine attack and a tension-type headache. Here, you can review what an aura is: Migraine phases: Aura

If over the counter medications do not work for you, or if your attacks are very severe, your doctor may prescribe a special migraine medication called a “triptan”. There are many different triptans, each with slightly different effects. That’s why it’s important to talk to an expert about which is best for you.

But there are other ways to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks! You can find out more in the next section.

What the experts say about medications for migraine prevention

For adults who have migraine attacks often, doctors sometimes recommend taking a medication every day to make the migraine attacks less frequent. This medication is called a “migraine prophylaxis”, or prevention.

Studies have investigated whether such drugs might also help young people. The results show that in children, the medication does not effect on how often migraine attacks occur. In fact, they found the opposite: children who take these medications meant for adults develop many unwanted side effects, such as strong feelings of sadness. Luckily, there are other ways to reduce how often migraine attacks happen! Take a look here:

What can I do to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks?

First, it is important that you treat a migraine attack. If you don’t treat it, you might feel very stressed by the migraine, which doesn’t help. This means your battery (“the migraine generator”) could be half full at the end of the attack.

Also, find out what the triggers are for your migraines and try to reduce them. Your migraine attacks won’t disappear completely, but you will get them less often.

Here you can find more tips that will help you to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks:

Are you ready for a quiz? If not, check out the previous pages to review the information on migraines.

Check your knowledge!

What is the course of a migraine attack?

Continue here. Can you answer all the questions on migraines?

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Here you can go back and learn about the course of an attack.

Learn more