Terms explained

Acupuncture

A type of therapy that involves inserting fine, solid needles at different points in the body.

Amitryptiline

A drug often used for depression, although it has other uses. It can help to prevent migraine. At the time of publication amitryptiline may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Anti-emetic

A type of drug used to help stop nausea and vomiting. It can also relieve migraine pain. Examples include metoclopramide and domperidone.

Chronic

Occurring frequently over a long period of time.

Episodic

Occurring from time to time and not at regular intervals.

Ergot

A type of drug used to relieve migraine pain. It is usually avoided because of its side effects. An example is ergotamine.

Frovatriptan

A form of triptan used to relieve migraine pain. At the time of publication frovatriptan may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Metoclopramide

A type of drug used to help stop nausea and vomiting. It can also relieve migraine pain.

Neurologist

A doctor who specialises in conditions involving the brain.

Non-oral

Not taken by mouth and not absorbed from the stomach. Examples include nasal sprays, injections and suppositories.

NSAID (short for non‑steroidal anti‑inflammatory drug)

A type of drug that reduces inflammation and pain. Examples include diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Off-label

In the UK, medicines are licensed to show that they work well enough and are safe enough to be used for specific conditions and groups of people. Some medicines can also be helpful for conditions or people they are not specifically for. This is called 'off‑label' use. Off‑label use might also mean the medicine is taken at a different dose or in a different way to the licence, such as using a cream or taking a tablet. There is more information about licensing medicines on NHS Choices.

Opioid

A type of painkiller used for moderate to severe pain. Examples of weak opioids include codeine and dihydrocodeine. Examples of strong opioids include buprenorphine, diamorphine, fentanyl and oxycodone.

Oral

Taken as a tablet or capsule and absorbed from the stomach.

Paracetamol

A type of painkiller used for mild to moderate pain.

Prochlorperazine

A type of drug used to help stop nausea and vomiting. It can also relieve migraine pain. At the time of publication prochlorperazine may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Propranolol

A drug used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions. It can help to prevent migraine. At the time of publication propranolol may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Riboflavin

Vitamin B2. At the time of publication riboflavin may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Topiramate

A drug used to help prevent seizures (fits) in epilepsy. It can help to prevent migraine. At the time of publication topiramate may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Triptan

A type of drug used to relieve migraine pain. Examples include almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, sumatriptan and zolmitriptan. At the time of publication some triptans may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Verapamil

A type of drug used to treat heart conditions. It can help to prevent cluster headache. At the time of publication verapamil may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

Zolmitriptan

A form of triptan used to relieve migraine pain. At the time of publication zolmitriptan may be recommended for 'off-label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.

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