Medicine for Headaches: Understanding Pregnancy Migraines

Medicine for Headaches

Medicine for Headaches

Deciding on medicine for headaches during pregnancy is normally hard; and this is partially because of the complicated nature of pregnancy headaches. Women who may have been experiencing constant migraines before getting pregnant might discover that their migraines have completely disappeared or reduced in intensity and frequency after they fall pregnant. On the other hand, a woman who may have gone through her entire life without suffering a migraine will begin experiencing them during pregnancy. In fact, studies have revealed that majority of the women experience their fist migraine during pregnancy.

Medical practitioners are yet to arrive at a conclusive finding as to what exactly causes migraines during pregnancy; but there is a pretty valid speculation that it may majorly result from the spike in hormonal levels. Before deciding on medicine for headaches, it is important you understand the origin of the headaches first.

Relationship between Hormones and Migraines

Migraines are closely linked to the neurotransmitter serotonin; which is in turn intertwined with the estrogen hormone. A drop in the estrogen levels results in a drop in the serotonin levels too and this explains the occurrence of migraines during menstruation.

During pregnancy, the estrogen levels will spike thus resulting in a reduction of migraines for those who may have previously suffered the same. However, this is bad news for those who have not previously suffered migraines as the body will now react to the increased levels of estrogen and the woman experiences migraines.

This might explains why migraines are more common during the first trimester of pregnancy as the body is undergoing the major adjustments; and why they lessen with time… in most instances. In fact during the third trimester, it is almost impossible to suffer from migraine headaches but tension headaches take over during this time.

Besides hormones, the occurrence of migraines may be attributed to the changes in blood flow in the brain, as well as changes in nerve pathways and the resultant petrochemicals. Attributing migraines to blood flow may explain why they occur as a throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head.

Migraine Triggers

Before rushing off to find a medicine for headaches that will cure your pregnancy migraines, you might be interested in knowing that migraines have been linked to some foods and drinks which are said to trigger the attacks. These include:

  • MSG preservative
  • Nitrate preservative
  • Soy sauce
  •  Cheese
  • Aspartame
  •  Chocolate
  • Processed meats such as hot dogs.

Medicine for Headaches: Treating Pregnancy Migraines

Prior to becoming pregnant you may have relied on certain medicine for headaches such as sodium naproxen, ipobrifen, aspirin or acetaminophen to cure your migraines. During pregnancy however, these drugs are highly discourages owing to the likelihood that they may pose a risk to the fetus. Some effects have shown to be as dire as birth defects and abnormalities in the fetus and even miscarriages and heavy bleeding for the woman during childbirth. It goes without saying that heavy bleeding will lead to death and so such risks should be avoided at all costs.

So which medicine for headaches could be rendered safe for the expectant mother? Truth be told, there is no single medicine for headaches that can be said to be the go-to medication for pregnant women. Even with the FDA classification of medicine for pregnant women, you cannot entirely rely on Category A drugs to the completely safe and with no dire side effects. Each woman’s body will react differently to different medications.

There are insufficient studies on the relationship between certain medicine for headaches such as Imitrex, Midrin or Cafergot (Ergotamine) and their impact on fetal development; and so such medications are discouraged altogether. This explains the difficulty in medicating pregnancy migraines; as opposed to tension migraines which may be treated with Tylenol taken under a physician’s supervision.

Diagnosing Migraines during Pregnancy: Keeping a Migraine Diary

Before the doctor starts picking out medicine for headaches to help alleviate your pain, it is important they first diagnose whether you are really suffering a migraine. This is normally done through CT scans and other radiology tests but neither can be used during pregnancy. So how can a doctor pick out medicine for headaches for an expectant woman?

You will need to keep a migraine diary and this is just as the name suggests: a diary documenting your migraines. You will need to note down:

a) The date and time of occurrence of the migraines

b) The duration of the migraines

c) The intensity and location of the pain

d) What food you may have eaten in the past 24 hours

e) Is it just a pain in the head or are there other symptoms?

f) Did you try some home remedies on it such as using heat pads or a massage?

g) Did you try something new prior to the attacks? This might include new environment, new body product, new diet etc.

The above will be used for diagnosis of your migraine and the health care provider can then prescribe medication for headaches.

Continue reading Is It Normal To Experience Pregnancy Headaches?