What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

A Bad Situation Made Worse

Downright Debilitating

Migraines are painful and sometimes downright debilitating. Most sufferers reach for over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs as the pain kicks in. The bad news is that taking these medications too often or in large amounts may leave you feeling worse than ever. But, even prescription drugs can cause complications. Read on and learn to be more proactive in the care that's right for you.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), for instance ibuprofen products like Advil and Motrin, carry the risk of causing some bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. That goes for aspirin, too. Though the risk is greater when these drugs are taken in large doses or over a long period of time, a very sensitive individual may experience abdominal pain, bleeding, and ulcers.

The Pain Trap

Beside these gastrointestinal symptoms, taking these medications more than 2-3 times a week or in large doses may set you up for a serious migraine complication known as rebound headache. Rebound headaches occur when your headache medication stops working. Even worse, your medication begins to cause headaches that occur more often and are of longer duration than the migraines you meant to treat. This phenomenon leads to upping the dose, digging you ever deeper into the pain trap.

Rebound headaches tend to:

Come on daily, waking you early in the morning

Pain is most intense at the start of the headache

Pain continues throughout the day

Other symptoms of rebound headaches include:


Inability to concentrate




Memory problems



In addition to gastrointestinal complications and rebound headaches, there is another potential pitfall related to migraine medication, this time by way of prescription medication, and this complication, known as serotonin syndrome, has the potential to become a life-threatening condition. Serotonin syndrome is a drug interaction that occurs when taking migraine medications called triptans (Imitrex, Zomig) along with the antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Though these interactions are quite rare, you need to tell your doctor if you take SSRI medications like Zoloft, Prozac, or Paxil, or if you take SNRI medications such as Cymbalta or Effexor. The effects of serotonin syndrome tend to occur within hours of taking a new drug or increasing the dosage of a drug already in your regimen.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:



Extreme agitation or restlessness

Fast heartbeat



Heavy sweating

Loss of coordination

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Overactive reflexes

Rapid changes in blood pressure