How do you treat a migraine?

How do you treat a migraine?

How do you treat a migraine?

First things first:

Tension-type headaches and migraines must be treated differently!

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

If you’re not sure whether you have migraines or tension-type headaches, check out this overview or the video “Headache 101” again.

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

The bounce test

What can I do when I notice a migraine attack?

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

You can test this with the bounce test, for example.

Pain medications

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

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

For most children and teens, the painkiller Ibuprofen works best.

You can tell a painkiller is working when the headache decreases noticeably after half an hour to an hour.

Two important rules

for the correct use of medication during a migraine attack!
1. You must take the painkiller 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 on time.
2. You must take the dosage recommended by your doctor.

If you reduce the amount, the medication can’t work properly. It can also be really dangerous to take too much, and taking more medication won’t work any 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, and if the attacks occur very rarely.

To do this, you can lie down and darken the room. If you don’t feel better after one or two hours, you will know that it is probably better to take a painkiller next time.


Often, patients suffering from migraines also suffer from tension-type headaches, which doesn’t make things any easier….

In this case, it is especially important to pay attention to when a medication is taken.

When a migraine hits it’s important to respond quickly and take the right medication.

For tension-type headaches, do the opposite: Do not take any medication!

If you notice that you are taking a lot of painkillers very frequently (meaning once a week or even more often), then you should discuss this with your doctor, because a lot of painkillers can make your headaches worse.

You can learn even more about medication for migraines 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 often tell that a migraine attack is starting before the headache begins. If you don’t usually get an aura, when your headache starts, think about whether there were typical signs of a migraine. This will help you tell the difference between a migraine attack and a tension-type headache. Here you can read again what an aura is: Migraine phases: Aura

If Ibuprofen does 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.

IMPORTANT! Keep your hands off acetylsalicylic acid (ASA for short)! This active ingredient is found in drugs like Aspirin. In children and teens, it can cause a very rare but severe side effect called Reye’s syndrome, which can be fatal.

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 on Migraine prophylactics

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

Studies have investigated whether such drugs might also help children. The results show that in children, the medication has no effect on how often migraine attacks occur. Quite the opposite, the scientists found that children who take these medications 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 become very stressed. This means, your battery (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 for more information on migraines.

Check your knowledge!

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

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What happens during a migraine attack?

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

Learn more