Employee & Community Health

Migraine: More than a headache

4/8/2019 by Dr. Nathan Young

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Migraine is one of the most common and disabling conditions — and it's more than a garden-variety headache. It's an inherited condition that can't be seen, may be experienced daily or just now and then, and often goes undiagnosed. Individuals with migraines have intense headaches lasting for hours along with other symptoms, including sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, throbbing or pounding pain on one side of their head and others. 

Thankfully, we have many effective options for treating and preventing migraines. 

  • Taking migraine medications at the very onset of a migraine is best, since it may stop the headache and allow you to take less medication. 
  • If over-the-counter (OTC) medications aren't working, your provider may prescribe a "triptan" class of medication. These are very safe medications with affordable generic options. Most patients are able to find a triptan that is well tolerated and effective, although it may take some trial and error. 
  • If you're struggling with migraine symptoms more than two days a week or experiencing frequent disabling headaches, a preventive strategy may help. This could include treating an alternative problem such as insomnia, blood pressure, depression or other types of pain. 

Advice and treatment are available to provide and improve care of migraines. Your primary care team is supported by the Integrated Community Specialties (ICS) clinic, which includes neurologists experienced in the care of migraine and other conditions. A face-to-face consultation with a neurologist isn't always needed, but your care team can connect with us by phone or electronically after your visit. 

We're able to review your primary care provider's notes and hold an electronic consultation outlining options for you. We're also available to see patients who need more complex care or are deciding if a brain MRI is necessary or can be avoided. 

If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from migraines, see your care team to get the treatment that will be best for you. 

Dr. Nathan Young is a neurology consultant in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Integrated Specialties Clinic. He is the chair of the Division of Community Neurology, which includes the Rochester community and Mayo Clinic Health System neurology practices. He is passionate about collaborating with primary care teams and developing high-value care models to provide world-class Mayo care for our ECH patients.