Need migraine help on a day I can't lay down and sleep
November 17, 2011 4:24 AM   Subscribe

I have a long day ahead of me. I have a migraine coming on. I'm out of my sumatriptan and I not longer have prescription coverage insurance. Help!

It's 5am my time. I have a test at 8am, another at 11am, a lab report due at 3:30pm and a large set of ochem hw due online at 11:55pm. It's going to be a long day. I've already been up since 1 am studying. I can feel a migraine creeping up on me it's actually already here, but I know it'll get much worse. What can I do to not completely ruin my ability to think?

Sometimes caffeine and an analgesic helps, but it hasn't so far. Usually I take my sumatriptan and lay down in a dark quiet room. Today I can't even lay down, medicine or not. I have coverage to see a physician at the student health center, but the walk-in clinic usually takes some time. I'm going to try to after my 8am test. Which leads me to my two main questions: 1a. triptans have worked for me, so does anyone know the cheapest generic one (in general, I'm sure ymmv)? 1b. they usually make me drowsy and fuzzy headed, is there some sort of other medication I can ask for that wouldn't? 2. What else can I do to assuage the pain? Would any type of food help? Protein? I know to stay hydrated.

Addition information, if needed? Female, 26, in US. History of menstrual migraines. No other known triggers.
posted by lizjohn to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Since the headache has started this may not work but what I do is Excedrin or one each ibuprofin and tylenol and a couple cups of strong coffee. Try using an icepack at the back of your neck for a while too - and you can hold a cup of coffee in your hands -the idea being to alter your circulation, pulling the extra blood away from the dilated blood vessels in your head.

Good luck - it's awfully hard to stop a migraine once it has started. Can you get a note from the clinic to get out of the other events post 8am test? I have felt your pain - awful situation to be in!
posted by leslies at 4:32 AM on November 17, 2011

Sumatriptan was the first triptan to go generic, so it's a good bet for an affordable version. Naratriptan is now available as a generic, too, so there might be others.

Some people find taking three ibuprofens at once to be much more effective against a migraine than a lower dose, and far more effective than aspirin. Don't take more than four at a time (total of 800 mg), and try to take it with food or milk, if you can.
posted by Ery at 4:54 AM on November 17, 2011

If you're out of pre-drome, and your heart rate is going up, you might eat a small handful of salt (a single-serving fast food salt packet works pretty well). It's dreadful, but my grandmother swore by this and it usually holds them back for me.

Take the salt straight, but then you can drink as much water as you like.

Good luck!
posted by divide_by_cucumber at 5:16 AM on November 17, 2011

I've had good results with Excedrin Migraine, though it leaves me feeling woozy once the pain is gone.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:29 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I take Relpax, but my neurologist also gave me a prescription for a high dose of Naproxen (Aleve) to take as a "first resort" since Relpax is so expensive. The dose I take is the equivalent of 4 regular Aleve tablets, and it can usually knock out the seeds of a migraine. If I let it go too far, only Relpax works, but if I can catch it early enough the Naproxen is very effective.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:50 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I get migraines too, and when I'm out of sumatriptan, I've found that BC Powder often works wonders. It's basically aspirin and caffeine in powdered form. It has the advantage of not making you feel woozy, like Exedrin Migraine can, but it can be a bit tough to swallow.
posted by Bourbonesque at 5:57 AM on November 17, 2011

Try excedrin migraine. Might help the pain. Your lucky though that you can take something. When I get my migraines NOTHING works.
posted by majortom1981 at 6:03 AM on November 17, 2011

Another recommendation for Excedrin migraine (or just regular Excedrin, which is the same formulation). Usually will knock mine back if I catch it early enough.
posted by goggie at 6:44 AM on November 17, 2011

Yes, Excedrin and Excedrin Migraine are exactly the same. That being said, if I feel any kind of headache coming on, I take Excedrin. 99% of the time I never have to use my Imitrex.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 6:51 AM on November 17, 2011

A neurologist I know (not my neurologist, not your neurologist) recommended that I take one ibuprofen and one Excedrin with a caffeinated beverage at the onset of a migraine. It's worked really well for me.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 6:52 AM on November 17, 2011

Seconding aleve at a higher than usual dosage. I have had migraine for twenty five years, and in the last seven or so I have gotten by with just aleve. You can also plunge your hands in ice water for as long as you can stand it, try to cry, or try to vomit, all of which have been somewhat successful for migraineurs. (Having an orgasm also has some positive effect in some cases.)
posted by thebrokedown at 8:27 AM on November 17, 2011

I second all the calls for Excedrin. I also find peppermints to help (something about the smell supposedly helps).
posted by quodlibet at 10:19 AM on November 17, 2011

this is probably too late for your original problem, but for future reference, since you don't have insurance: Midrin is another type of drug (see for more info) that is also available by prescription. It's actually a combo that includes acetominophen. My doctor gave it to me as an alternative to sumatriptan (in case of insurance issues) and I can also take it along with the sumatriptan. I suggest it to you because it is available as a generic, so hopefully it would be cheaper than triptans. IANAD, but I do get migraines. Sumatriptan works like a charm for me, but this stuff works at least 50% as well.

Side note: it smells god awful for some reason, and since I always get nauseous from smells with a headache, I have to be careful about plugging my nose/not inhaling while I'm handling it....nothing like your migraine medicine inducing vomiting....
posted by Tandem Affinity at 11:05 AM on November 17, 2011

If the above recommendations don't work, think about hauling out the heavy artillery, by which I mean opioid and barbiturate based meds. These are highly dangerous and addictive and require prescriptions, and you must discuss them with a doctor and keep him or her in the loop as to your progress and side effects. They both cause severe rebound headaches in some people; I'm especially prone to rebounds from opioids. However, a barbiturate based med like Fioricet (which contains the mid acting barbiturate butabital) works better for me than any of the over-the-counter meds. So they may be worth looking into--but only if you're comfortable with all of the caveats.
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:20 AM on November 17, 2011

Sudafed and prescription level ibuprofen (800mg) - from a pharmacist friend, and I know someone who can not take the Triptans and this combo works for them. This patent is directed to Sudafed with Tylenol.
posted by caddis at 11:52 AM on November 17, 2011

I found that I can usually quasi-abort a migraine by taking 800mg ibuprofen, 1000mg tylenol, and 300mg caffeine. It doesn't return me to normal, but it takes the wind out of the migraine and just leaves me with sort of a queasy headache.
posted by KathrynT at 12:25 PM on November 17, 2011

A happy resolution - I wasn't able to make it to the health center until after the 11am exam, but I was able to get a sumatriptan injection! 15 minutes afterward I felt 92% better. For any future readers of this question, taking a mix of analgesics and coffee did help to stave off the worse of the migraine, but it had gotten to far to easily be aborted. Eating toast helped with the nausea. Sitting next to a man constantly shuffling cards in the otherwise quiet coffee house at 5am did not.
posted by lizjohn at 2:18 PM on November 17, 2011

Glad to hear you're doing better! Just for future reference, I take Relpax and it's around $25/pill at Walmart - but they will allow me to buy just one pill at a time. Also, for nausea you can try Dramamine. :)
posted by IndigoRain at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2011

Tandem Affinity, midrin is no longer available in the U.S. as of early this year (much to the dismay of those of us who can't take the stupid triptans).

OP, glad to hear you got everything resolved, but yeah, if it happens again, Excedrin is great if the migraine hasn't gotten too well established.
posted by dilettante at 3:11 PM on November 17, 2011

thanks, dilettane. wow, I had no idea about Midrin (and its generics, which is what I had) doctor gave me a huge prescription at some point for 'as needed', and obviously, i haven't worked my way through it. glad you found other options, lizjohn.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:15 PM on November 21, 2011

This is pretty late advice but I highly recommend reading this book about managing your headaches/migraines. It deals with foods to avoid and even anti-depressants as preventative medicines. I've had great success following the guidelines contained herein.
posted by popaopee at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2011

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