The study shows that some classes of migraine medication maybe two to five times more effective than ibuprofen for treating migraine attacks and that individual medications could be up to six times more effective.
Migraine attacks are characterized by intense throbbing head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea or vomiting.
Dr. Chia-Chun Chiang of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota., said: “There are many treatment options available to those with migraine. However, there is a lack of head-to-head comparisons of the effectiveness of these treatment options.
“These results confirm that triptans should be considered earlier for treating migraine, rather than reserving their use for severe attacks.”
To get their results the team studied data from nearly 300,000 participants across six years using a smartphone app.
The app allows users to monitor the frequency of migraine attacks, triggers, symptoms and medication effectiveness.
They looked at a total of 25 medications among seven drug classes and analyzed their effectiveness in these logged migraine attacks.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that the top three classes of medications more effective than ibuprofen were triptans, ergots and anti-emetics.
Triptans were five times more effective than ibuprofen, ergots were three times more effective and anti-emetics were two and a half times more effective.
When looking at individual medications, the top three were eletriptan which was six times more effective than ibuprofen, zolmitriptan which was five and a half times more effective and sumatriptan which was five times more effective.
The most effective of the medications, eletriptan, was found to be helpful 78 percent of the time compared with Ibuprofen which was only helpful 42 percent of the time.
Zolmitriptan was helpful 74 percent of the time and sumatriptan was helpful 72 percent of the time.
The researchers also looked at other groups of medication such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
NSAIDs other than ibuprofen were 94 percent more effective than ibuprofen.
Additionally, a common combination of medications used to treat migraine, aspirin, acetaminophen and caffeine was also evaluated and found to be 69 percent more effective than ibuprofen.
Dr. Chiang added: “For people whose acute migraine medication is not working for them, our hope is that this study shows that there are many alternatives that work for migraine, and we encourage people to talk with their doctors about how to treat this painful and debilitating condition.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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