People suffering from migraines use OTC and prescription medication to treat their condition. Because patients rely on one or both types of medication, the pharmacist can help explain the correct use of these therapies.
In a recent survey, almost half of those responding said they used only OTC medication, while about one-third used both OTC and prescription drugs.
Because of their accessibility, pharmacists are in a good position to help people with treating migraines. Almost all of the pharmacists in a recent survey reported making at least one recommendation every day to treat headaches.
Pharmacists can warn patients of the risks associated with these medications. For example, people who use acute medication for headaches often can develop headaches just from overusing the drugs. Because of their knowledge and experience, pharmacists are in a good position to determine if a patient is overusing medication.
For many people suffering from migraines, a pharmacist may be the only healthcare professional they see because they don’t believe the condition warrants a visit to a physician. About one-third of those with migraines fall into this category.
There is a simple four-question interview pharmacists can conduct to determine the best medication for a particular patient. The first is the number of headaches that prevent the person from performing normal activities or cause vomiting. The second is the number of headaches the person has each month. The third is determining if there are any other symptoms associated with the headaches. And the fourth is asking if the person has already tried any OTC medications.
If the pharmacist determines that the headaches are severe and debilitating enough, they can refer the patient to a physician for treatment.
Pharmacists can also help patients talk with them about lifestyle issues that can contribute to migraines. The pharmacist can counsel the patient about treatment methods other than those involving drugs and avoid the events that trigger a migraine.
For patients who are being cared for by a physician, the pharmacist can choose the best therapy based on the patient’s particular medical history, such as comorbidities and interactions with other drugs the patient may be taking.
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