There’s nothing quite like a migraine headache. The sufferer just wants to lie down in a dark place and hope the pulsing throbbing pain on one side of his or her head subsides soon. Sometimes migraines come with vomiting, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Sometimes auras or distracting dots and numbness alert the sufferer to the imminent headache.
Migraine headaches are debilitating to the point of not doing chores or driving a car or going to work. Migraine headaches typically last from 4 to 72 hours.
Medications used to quell migraines fall into two categories:
• Pain-relieving medications – Drugs are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms that have already begun.
• Preventive medications – Drugs taken regularly, often on a daily basis, to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.
Pain relieving medications include over the counter medications like Motrin, Advil, and Tylenol. Some prescription drugs are Axert, Zomig, Relpax, Migergot, and Cafergot.
Preventive medications don’t eliminate headaches entirely, and some cause serious side effects like the anti-seizure drug Topamax. FDA approved the use of Topamax to prevent migraine headaches, but not to relieve the pain of migraines. Anti-seizure drugs may cause side effects like nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, hair loss, and dizziness.
On March 4, 2011, The FDA released a new safety update changing Topamax from a Pregnancy C to a Pregnancy D category and adding a warning about pregnancy which means there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on human data but the potential benefits from use of the drug in pregnant women may be acceptable in certain situations despite its risks.
FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients of an increased risk for cleft lip and/or cleft palate in infants born to women treated with Topamax during pregnancy. Because of new human data that show an increased risk for oral clefts, Topamax changed pregnancy drug categories.
From January 2007 through December 2010, approximately 32.3 million Topamax prescriptions were given and approximately 4.3 million patients filled Topamax prescriptions from the outpatient retail pharmacies in the U.S. Topamax is primarily used for anti seizures and migraine headache prevention. It is also prescribed off label for less serious health issues.
Cleft palate and cleft lip are birth defects where there is an opening in the lip and/or palate or roof of the mouth that is caused by incomplete development during early fetal formation. Every year, cleft lip and cleft palate occur in about 1 or 2 of every 1,000 babies born in the United States, making it one of the most common major birth defects.
Before starting Topamax, pregnant women and women of childbearing potential should discuss other treatment options with their doctors. Women who suffer from migraine headaches should tell their doctors if they are planning to or become pregnant.