How to Treat Migraines with Corticosteroids

Those who suffer from migraines and cluster headaches know the frustration of trying dozens of different pills and medications, only for none of them to work-not to mention the pain. At times, it feels like you'll have to suffer for the rest of your life with no hope. They are debilitating, and you wonder how you are going to live with it. Even the really hard stuff-vicodin, codeine, and even morphine-come with no guarantees. Fortunately, there are some more creative solutions out there.


Migraine: An intense headache lasting between 4 (usually 6) and 72 hours that typically localizes on one side of the head. Symptoms include throbbing, nausea, and light and sound sensitivity. Many experience warning signs in the form of visual disturbances, "auras", eye pain, and tunnel vision. Less common symptoms are:

  • Fatigue

  • Chills

  • Frequent urination

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weakness in limbs

  • Difficulty finding words and speaking

  • Sweating

Cluster Headache: A one-sided, severe burning, sharp, and/or steady head pain (often around one eye) that can last up to 3 hours. These headaches typically occur at least once a day, but often several times, for a period of a few weeks to a number of months before vanishing for months or years. Cluster headaches often wake sufferers just a few hours after falling asleep. Common symptoms include:

  • Tearing

  • Red eye

  • Running nose

  • Congestion

  • Flushing

  • Swelling near the eye(s)

Preventative Treatment

Because migraine headaches are notoriously difficult to get rid of, it is best to try to prevent them. Traditionally, this meant limiting eye strain, stress levels, and certain sensory stimuli. These things are all still good, and you should definitely try to find out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. Pay careful attention to the food and tasks that you do before it comes on.

As a general rule:

  • Avoid Smoking & Drinking Alcohol

  • Use Only Natural Sweeteners

  • Exercise Regularly

  • Practice Stress Management

  • Stick to a Healthy Sleep Routine

For cluster headaches, many of the same things are true, especially the smoking and alcohol!

Medical advances have provided some more options. Prednisone helps to prevent migraines and cluster headaches, while also acting quickly to relieve symptoms. Other drugs, such as Lithium, Antihistamines, Propanolol, and Calcium channel blockers, are good to lower the frequency of your headaches, but they do not act quickly to significantly reduce symptoms. Many doctors will choose to have you combine these medications.

Prednisone works by entering the liver, where it is converted into prednisolone. In addition to suppressing the immune system and relieving inflammation, prednisolone is a steroid. It has a number of side effects, so your doctor may be cautious about prescribing it to you, especially if you have or are high risk for osteoporosis or diabetes and other blood-sugar disorders. Normally, prednisone is taken 80mg daily for a while, then reduced over the course of a few weeks, however, always take prescription medications exactly as your physician states. Only he or she is an expert at your case and can say what will be most effective and safe for you body.




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