Preventive Headache Medicines

Topic Overview

Preventive medicines are used to avoid severe or chronic headaches, such as migraines or cluster headaches. They are not used to treat headaches after they begin.

Examples of preventive medicines are:

  • Anticonvulsants.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Beta-blockers.
  • Botulinum toxin.
  • Calcium channel blockers.

In order for these medicines to work, you will need to use them exactly as your doctor tells you to. You may need to take them daily even when you do not have a headache. Some people only have to take preventive medicines for a few months. Other people need to take them long-term. Botulinum toxin is given as multiple shots every 12 weeks.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last Revised June 4, 2013

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