While it is not uncommon to see headache listed as a possible side effect on the prescribing information for drugs, some drugs carry specific FDA required WARNINGS or CAUTIONS for those who suffer from migraines.
Headache as a side effect pertains to all people, whereas a WARNING or CAUTION relates to those with a specific condition such as migraines. These warnings tell of impending known problems that occur as a result of taking or using the drug or remedy. This includes pills, shots, creams, patches, drops, and even intrauterine contraceptive devices that release hormones.
WARNING or CAUTION tell you that you should not be taking the drug if you fit the object of the warning. For example, when the warning or caution states, "If you have a heart condition, do not take this drug," you are being told that you may die or suffer another consequence if you have a heart condition and you take this drug.
Migraine Warnings. As a migraineur, you need to beware of the WARNING or CAUTION on drugs for those who suffer from MIGRAINES. These are not saying a side effect of this drug is headaches, rather the words used are telling you be very careful or don't take this drug if you are a person who gets migraines. It is saying that if you choose to ignore the warning, you will suffer.
When a doctor writes you a prescription, he or she is supposed to inform you of the cautions and warnings for the drug. However, you must to be your own health advocate and find out if the prescribed drug may be harmful to you.
Hormone based drugs carry more warnings and cautions for migraines than perhaps any other type of drug. It is well known that altering the hormone levels in the body has a direct consequence on the occurrence of migraine headaches and perhaps that is the reason the FDA requires such warnings be placed in the labeling information for the drug.
The greatest use for hormone based drugs is birth control. Second to that would be hormones used as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as a possible way to help alleviate perimenopause symptoms. In addition to migraine warnings, many of these drugs also carry warnings related to cancer.
If you are currently taking a drug and especially a hormone of any type, you should read the labeling information to see what it says about headaches and migraines. If you do not have this information, you may be able to obtain a copy from your pharmacist or you can use the FDA website to find it. You will need to know the drug's brand or generic name in order to do a search.
The following is an example of a pharmaceutical birth control product with a CAUTION for migraineurs:
Mirena is a soft, flexible IntraUterine Contraceptive (IUC) device that is placed in the uterus and releases small amounts of a synthetic progestogen hormone (progestin) called levonorgestrel locally into the uterus. Mirena has a warning for all migraineurs that states:
Caution: Mirena should be used with caution in patients who have:
See http://berlex.bayerhealthcare.com/html/products/pi/Mirena_PI.pdf or obtain and read the labeling information that accompanies the product. If you are currently using this product, you should have been warned by your doctor and received this labeling information from your doctor before implanting the IUC or from a pharmacist.
- Focal migraine with asymmetrical visual loss [aura]
- Exceptionally severe headache
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