A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that combining the prescription drug sumatriptan — known as Immitrex — and the over-the-counter pain reliever naproxen — the ingredient in Aleve — is a better way to relieve an acute migraine than using either of them alone.
Dr. Dara Jamieson, director of the Headache Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell medical center, said the study is very encouraging. About 28 million Americans — 3/4 of whom are women — suffer from migraines.
Migraines are not just normal headaches. Dr. Jamieson said they are often accompanied by severe pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound and movement.
Dr. Jamieson explained that sumatriptan has been used for years to help migraine sufferers as has over the counter drugs like naproxen. Now they will be combined in one pill, which is not yet available.
"It's not exactly a new concept," she told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "It's new that it's coming out in one pill. You can do it yourself at home this morning if you like because you can get sumatriptan or one of the others from your doctor and go to the pharmacy and get naproxen or Aleve over the counter."
The only problem is that there is a lack of flexibility having them in one pill as opposed two different pills, Dr. Jamieson said. People should take sumatriptan at the first signs of a migraine, but can take naproxen when they are deep in the throws of the headache. Sumatriptan isn't effective at that stage, she said.
Of course the best way to combat migraines is not to get them. Dr. Jamieson said people who suffer from them should drink plenty of water, eat regularly and get a decent amount of sleep. She also said avoid stress.
"If you can avoid things that are going to bring on a headache, you'll do much better," she said. "Unfortunately, some things like change in weather, you can't really avoid. And that's a major headache trigger as well."
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