The Best Over the Counter Migraine Medicine

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by severe headaches and other symptoms. It affects people of all ages with varying frequency. Migraines are often triggered by certain foods or drinks, stress or lack of sleep, hormonal changes in women, and other factors.

Some people find relief from their migraines by taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

However, these medications may not be effective for everyone and can cause side effects. This article will review over-the-counter medications for Migraine.

Migraine Definition

Migraine is a neurological disease that causes severe headaches and other symptoms. It is not a disease of the brain, but rather a disease of the blood vessels in the brain.

The most common cause of a migraine is stress or anxiety. This triggers an overproduction of serotonin which leads to vasoconstriction (narrowing) in the blood vessels supplying the brain.

This narrowing causes a decrease in blood flow to the brain which leads to pain and other symptoms associated with migraines such as nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, vomiting, etc.

Migraine Symptoms

Migraine is a brain disorder that is characterized by recurrent headaches.  The headache can persist for more than a day or two. Headache is severe throbbing pulsatile in nature.

Some migraine symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Photophobia
  • Phonophobia

Causes of Migraine

Migraine affects about 1 in every 5 people. There are four main types of migraine as

  • Migraine with aura
  • Migraine without aura
  • Complicated migraine (migraines with neurological symptoms such as weakness or numbness)
  • Status migrainosus or chronic (a prolonged migraine attack lasting more than 72 hours)
  • The causes of migraine are not fully understood. There are
  • Genetic factors – Family history of migraine
  • Environmental factors – stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, certain foods, Barometric changes, etc.
  • Hormonal. Changes – Post Menopausal changes, Menstruation, Pregnancy
  • Sleep disorders – Lack of sleep might trigger migraine.
  • Female gender

Migraine Attacks: Over-the-counter Medications

There are a variety of over-the-counter medicines that can help relieve the symptoms and help you get your life back on track.

The first step is to identify the type of migraine you have. Is it a simple migraine, or is it an intense migraine?

The second step is to determine if your symptoms are mild, moderate, or severe.  At this point, you should be able to figure out what kind of medication will work best for you.


This drug is commonly used as a painkiller and fever reducer. Ibuprofen can also be used to relieve headaches including migraines.

This works by reducing inflammation in the body and helps with pain relief. It also reduces fever and helps reduce swelling in the brain which can cause pain during a migraine attack.

Ibuprofen works by blocking the activity of prostaglandins, chemicals in the body that play a major role in inflammation and pain.

Brand names : Adivil, Motrin

Dosage: Ibuprofen doses 400 – 800 mg 8 hourly

Ibuprofen side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic reaction


Naproxen can be used for treating headaches caused by migraines or other conditions like cluster headaches.

Naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever. It belongs to a group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Brand Name (Aleve)

Dose: Oral 220 mg per 8 hourly not exceeding more than 3 capsules per day. Naproxen works by blocking the production of prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins released from the injured areas will cause pain and inflammation of the site. Naproxen decreases the production of these chemicals to relieve pain, swelling, and fever.

Naproxen side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gastric ulcers


Aspirin is a common medication and there are many studies that have been conducted about its effectiveness for reducing the pain associated with migraines, but it can still cause side effects.

Aspirin is a drug that can help relieve headaches, and it is also used to prevent strokes. It’s available in several forms, including aspirin sodium, aspirin magnesium, and salicylate. Like other NSAIDs, it blocks prostaglandin which causes inflammation.

Dosage of aspirin: it is best at 300 mg per day in relieving headaches.

Brand Name : Ecosprin

The most common side effect of aspirin is stomach upset, which may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or stomach pain.

Other side effects can include nausea, mild stomach cramps and heartburn. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking aspirin, it’s important to consult a doctor as soon as possible.

If you continue to experience any of these side effects after trying to reduce your dose or stop taking aspirin altogether, it’s best to seek medical attention right away because some people may experience more serious complications if they don’t get treatment right away.

Regular use of aspirin is discouraged unless there is a heart condition.

Side effects are,

  • Allergy
  • Gastritis
  • Salicylate poisoning in overdose
  • Reye’s syndrome: If children less than 14 years were treated with aspirin there is a risk of Reye’s syndrome (Encephalopathy and Liver failure )


It is a common painkiller that has a safe profile when used within limits.  Acetaminophen is the common over-the-counter medication that has used to treat pain. It works by slowing down the nervous system to reduce feelings of pain or discomfort. Acetaminophen is available in several different forms, including tablets and liquids.

Dose: The typical dosage for adults is 1000 mg every 6 hours as needed unless otherwise directed by a doctor. The maximum dose of acetaminophen is 1 grams per day.

Some people may experience side effects from taking acetaminophen.

  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • Liver failure

The patients who are already heaving liver failure should not take acetaminophen.

Over-the-counter Migrain Cocktail!

Migraine headaches are the most common cause of chronic headaches, and they are often debilitating. Luckily, there are many over-the-counter options that can help ease the pain and discomfort of migraines.

Migraines are a pain, but we’ve got some good news for you. We’ve found an OTC migraine cocktail that works wonders.

The most important thing to know about these remedies is that they should be used only as a short-term solution to your migraine symptoms.

If you want to try one of them out, make sure you stick with it for at least two weeks before deciding whether or not it worked for you. This cocktail has three ingredients; aspirin 200 mg, acetaminophen 250mg and caffeine in 65 mg.

The main role of aspirin and acetominophenis to reduce pain and inflammation.caffein has antioxidant and antiinfalmmatery properties and muscle relaxants properties too.

This will allevite the most of the pain in the individual.

When to Seek the Professional Help

Migraine is a painful, recurring headache that can be debilitating. There are many things that can help you manage your migraine symptoms, but sometimes the best option is to seek professional help.

  • Frequent migraine episodes
  • Severe pain
  • accompany with Fever and neck stiffness
  • Severe vomiting
  • One-sided weakness in the body

These symptoms may relate to other disease manifestations as well. Thus needs to rule out, the cause.


TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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