Rescue Medications


Rescue medications for migraine are specifically used when all abortive medication options fail. When looking at resuce medications, you will typically find them to be pain mediations and types that help get through a Migraine. They can be used to reduce nausea and even help those suffering relax in a panicked state. These medications do not have the ability to abort a migraine, but will help ease the pain. Medications used for migraine rescue include:

  • Pain relievers: Pain relievers are medications that reduce and/or relieve aches and pains. They are primarily OTC and available without a prescription. However, just because they are available OTC does not mean that there aren’t associated risks. You must still follow the directions on the bottle or per the instructions of your doctor in order to consume the medication safely.
  • Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS): Includes ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Anti-nausea medications: Anti-nausea medications may be prescribed by your doctor in addition to a pain abortive medication (such as a triptan or ergot). These medications will offer relief of nausea, a major side-effect commonly associated with migraines. These treatments can be administered orally, by injection, or rectally.
  • Compro/prochlorperazine: Compro is used to control severe nausea and vomiting. It is administered rectally as a suppository.
  • Reglan/metoclopramide: Reglan increases muscle contractions in the upper digestive tract and increases the rate of the stomach emptying in to the intestines. It is typically used to treat short-term heartburn caused by reflux.
  • Glucocorticoids: Glucocorticoids are a group of steroids that are used to decrease inflammation and suppress the immune system. Many doctors believe that prescribing glucocorticoids will decrease the inflamed blood vessels that constrict causing the migraines.
  • Prednisone: Prednisone prevents inflammation in the body and suppresses the immune system. It is used to treat many conditions such as allergic reactions, arthritis, skin conditions, lupus, etc. For migraine sufferers, prednisone may be prescribed to help relieve the pain and throbbing commonly experienced during a migraine.
  • Dexamethasone: Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid used primarily to treat inflammation in the body. Dexamethasone can be used to prevent the severe migraine symptoms by decreasing the inflammation often associated with migraines.
  • Opioid medications: Opioids are a type of narcotic prescription medication. They work by clinging to opioid receptors in the brain, spine, as well as other areas of the body. They block the pain signals to the brain and help to diminish the pain feelings. Below are a list of commonly prescribed opioids. It is important to remember that opioids can have serious side effects and can easily become habit-forming. You must contact your prescribing doctor immediately if you notice any strange side effects or problems.
  • Codeine
  • Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora/fentanyl
  • Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin/hydrocodone

These medications combine hydrocodone and acetaminophen

  • Dilaudid, Exalgo/hydromorphone
  • Demerol/meperidine
  • Dolophine, Methadose/methadone
  • Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Ora-Morph SR/morphine
  • OxyContin, Oxyfast, Percocet, Roxicodone/oxycodone
  • Percocet is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen

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