Why don't normal painkillers such as paracetomol and ibuprofen work against migraine?

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Seraphina Anderson

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Seraphina Anderson  asked the Naked Scientists:
Dear Dr. Chris,
I would like to know what, if anything, you recommend to someone who wants to self-medicate for hormonal migraines.
The reason I ask is this:
I live overseas, and visiting the local GP (for a prescription/consultation) costs Euros35 in France and Euros50-60 per visit in Dubai. Furthermore, Immigran costs Euros20 per packet of 2 tabs. This is too expensive for me.
I have tried buying OTC contraceptives although often in developing countries, the pharmacist doesn't know much about them. I've tried tri-phasic contraceptives and find in general that any contraceptive dulls the pain, but does not block it out completely.
Part b of question: Why don't normal painkillers such as paracetomol and ibuprofen work against migraine?
I am told by the GPs I've visited in the past that a) this is common of women my age, and b) the best way to alleviate this type of migraine is Immigran. Is this true? If so, exactly how common is hormonal migraine? I can't believe that this debilitating condition is widely suffered when over 50% of the female population work. I have never seen/heard of hormonal migraines being widespread because if they were, there would be more information about it.
Thank you for your time.
Yours sincerely,

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 21/12/2009 20:30:02 by _system »


Offline Make it Lady

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You could ask the doctor if a Marina Coil would help your problem. I have one and I don't have any periods or any cycle to speak of. This means that I don't get migraines, wind or PMT like I used to. A Marine coil is an IUV with slow release hormones. You have to have a new one every 4 or 5 years. Best thing I ever did.

I'm surprised Ibuprofen doesn't work. GPs always say to use anti-inflamatory pain killers as a first line of treatment. Paracetamol is pretty useless as it is not an anti-inflamatory. Try taking the aspirin or ibuprofen with a strong cup of coffee. Caffeine aids absorption of pain killers. Don't drink too much coffee though as you could get withdrawal headaches when you stop drinking it.

I hope this helps. I still get sinus and thunder headaches that nothing will shift so I know where you are coming from.   
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