Abortive Medications


Abortive migraine medications work to stop the migraine in its tracks along with any symptoms associated with it. However, many migraine sufferers may experience what is known as the postdrome or “hang-over” period.


Triptans work primarily to shrink the blood vessels in the brain that have caused the migraine. Triptans are specifically to be used at the onset of a migraine. A triptan will not prevent or reduce migraines in frequency. It is imperative that migraine sufferers discuss all of their history with their doctor in order to determine what the appropriate course of treatment is. Specific triptan medication includes:

  • Imitrex: Primarily used as a headache abortive that works by narrowing blood vessels around the brain. It can also diminish typical symptoms associated with headaches including pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, etc. Imitrex will not prevent migraines, it will only treat an attack that has already started. However, Imitrex will not treat tension headaches. Imitrex can be administered as an oral tablet, a nasal spray, or as an injection.
  • Maxalt: Primarily a headache drug that narrows blood vessels around the brain. It can also reduce the intensity of common migraine side effects. Maxalt does not prevent migraine attacks; it works to treat the pain and symptoms as they begin.
  • Zomig: Shrinks blood vessels around the brain and combating migraine associated symptoms. As with other triptans, Zomig will only treat a migraine once it has begun, it will not prevent attacks or frequency. Zomig can be administered orally or as a nasal spray.
  • Axert: Narrows the blood vessels in the brain, but it has the ability to counteract common migraine associated symptoms. Axert should not be used on children and/or adolescents under the age of 12.
  • Amerge/naratriptan: Amerge is a serotonin 5-HT1 receptor agonist. It works by narrowing blood vessels in the brain. Amerge should not be used to treat hemiplegic migraines, if you have kidney or liver problems, high blood pressure, a history of heart problems, or if you have taken another 5-HT1 receptor agonist, an ergot-type medicine, or methlysergide in the previous 24 hours.
  • Relpax: Like other triptans, is narrows the constricted blood vessels in the brain during a migraine episode. It does not prevent headaches and is used when a migraine starts. It is not to be used to treat tension headaches.
  • Frova: Decreases dilated blood vessels during a migraine attack. Frova is not indicated to be used for hemiplegic migraines or cluster headaches.


Ergot-based medications, also known as ergot alkaloids, are used to treat patients who do not respond to the more common triptan treatment options. Migraine sufferers must provide their doctor with all of their medical history in order to determine if this is a proper treatment method. Specific ergotamine medication includes:

  • Ergotamine: Ergotamine works by decreasing blood vessel size in the brain and affecting the blood flow patterns often associated with headaches. As with triptans, Ergotamine will only treat the migraine symptoms, not prevent the migraine from occurring.
  • Migergot: Migergot is a combination of Ergotamine and caffeine. In addition to Ergotamine, caffeine is a stimulant that can constrict blood vessels in the brain. The combination of Ergotamine and caffeine can help some to treat the migraine symptoms at the onset of a migraine.
  • Cafergot: Cafergot is another medication option that combines Ergotamine and caffeine. The combination helps to contract blood vessels in the brain. The contraction of blood vessels helps to lessen the effects of common migraine symptoms.
  • Migranal/dihydrogotamine (D.H.E. 45): Migranal is an ergot derivative medication. It is administered as a nasal spray. Migranal works by tightening the blood vessels in the brain to relieve migraine pain. D.H.E. 45 is the injection version of the drug.

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