Beta blockers are a preventive measure and not a cure for migraines. People often use these medications to keep migraine attacks at bay.
Beta blockers are prescription drugs that obstruct the action of beta-adrenergic substances, which help to dilate the blood vessels. This in turn contributes in relieving high blood pressure as well as the burden on the heart. Although, it is a cardiovascular drug, various studies have proved that beta blockers can decrease the episodes of migraine substantially. They are regarded as prophylactic drugs, which means they work to prevent migraine attacks in future. Hence, one can consider it as a preventive measure for migraines. Taking these medications is a kind of preparation made in advance to keep recurring migraine attacks at bay. A point to note here is that they help in migraine prevention, hence should not be taken when the actual headache starts.
Usually, Inderal is the first choice for migraine prevention. In case, Inderal doesn’t provide the desired results, one can switch over to some other medication after consulting a qualified doctor. Medication that comes in beta blockers list for migraines are given below:
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Timolol (Blocadren)
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Pindolol (Visken)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Sotalol (Betapace AF)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor)
- Carteolol (Cartrol)
- Penbutolol (Levatol)
- Oxprenolol (Trasicor)
Mechanism of Action
One may wonder what is a beta blocker’s mode of action to provide relief from migraine attacks. Unfortunately, doctors are clueless about how these medications target the underlying cause of migraines. Even if doctors are unaware of the medicine’s mode of mechanism, it certainly does not discourage them from prescribing this drug due to its efficacy.
The production of melatonin hormone is very important to promote sleep. Surprisingly, in the presence of beta blockers, the amount of melatonin produced decreases, which can lead to increased episodes of sleep disturbances. Apart from experiencing periods of wakefulness, nightmare or hallucination like dreams is yet another side effect that occurs from using these medications. Other side effects linked with usage of these medications are given below:
- Lowered sex drive
- Bowel dysfunction that includes constipation or diarrhea
- Weight gain
People with respiratory problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma have to be extra cautious when it comes to taking beta blockers. Symptoms associated with these respiratory disorders such as trouble breathing may worsen with intake of these medications. Therefore, make the doctor aware of any pre-existing medical problems (if any). After knowing your medical history, the doctor will decide whether it would be appropriate to prescribe these medications. Also, these medications slow down the heart rate and so the patients diagnosed with heart failure or abnormal heart rhythms have to reconsider their usage for migraines.
On the whole, beta blockers, especially Inderal (propranolol) have been effective in mitigating migraines and hypertension. Quite a few sufferers used other drugs with no success but found migraine relief from intake of these medications. However, the dose has to be adjusted accordingly to reduce the severity of their side effects. Be it decreasing the severity, frequency or duration of migraine, one can certainly expect good results from these medications. Taking adequate rest and incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga into your everyday lifestyle can also help to combat and prevent migraines successfully.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.