The Independent Pharmacy

Best Over-the-Counter Migraine Relief

Andy Boysan
Andy BoysanBPharmDirector & Superintendent Pharmacist

Reviewed on 26 Jan 2023

What are migraines?

Unlike a simple headache, migraines are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound, as well as throbbing pain — usually in one area of the head.

It’s not always possible to determine the root cause of a migraine, but there are a number of potential triggers: emotional triggers such as stress or anxiety, physical triggers such as tiredness or poor posture, or environmental triggers such as extended exposure to a screen. A migraine can also be brought on by dietary or hormonal factors, while some medications such as contraceptive pills have been linked to migraines.

Sumatriptan Tablets (50mg & 100mg)
Sumatriptan Tablets (50mg & 100mg)
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Anyone suffering from a migraine will likely be seeking out a fast-acting and effective migraine relief treatment to reduce their symptoms quickly and enable them to get on with their day. In this case, you have a couple of available options:

  • If your migraine is severe, or you’ve started suffering from migraines regularly, you should speak to your GP who can recommend a prescription migraine treatment such as Sumatriptan or Almotriptan.
  • If your migraine is mild to moderate, you can buy migraine relief tablets online or over the counter from your local pharmacy.

In this guide, we’re going to focus on the latter and recommend the most effective over-the-counter migraine relief tablets to help manage migraine symptoms quickly.

Almotriptan 12.5mg tablets
Almotriptan 12.5mg tablets
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Over-the-counter migraine relief tablets

For mild to moderate migraine symptoms, pharmacists recommend an over-the-counter migraine relief treatment. These usually come in tablet form, and range from simple painkillers to stronger, more targeted medications. Let’s review the effectiveness of some of the most common migraine treatments available over the counter:

Paracetamol

The most widely-used painkiller in the UK, paracetamol can be taken to provide quick relief from a number of different pain-causing conditions, such as headaches, toothache, period pain, joint or muscle pain, as well as helping to reduce fevers caused by cold and flu.

While it will not be effective for all migraine sufferers, paracetamol can provide relief from the symptoms of a migraine. Simply take two tablets with a glass of water every four hours, but do not exceed four doses in a 24-hour period.

Ibuprofen

Like paracetamol, ibuprofen is a popular and widely-available treatment that provides effective relief from mild to moderate pain, including headaches, arthritic pain, back pain, toothache, period pain, and muscle and joint pain. Ibuprofen can also be taken to treat cold and flu symptoms and reduce inflammation.

Many migraine sufferers find that ibuprofen tablets provide effective relief from their symptoms. It is possible to take ibuprofen and paracetamol together to achieve maximum effectiveness, but you should stagger the doses of each for a more consistent and long-term reduction in symptoms.

Anadin Extra

Anadin Extra contains a triple-action formula of aspirin, paracetamol and caffeine to provide fast and effective relief from headaches and migraines: the aspiring targets and suppresses the pain at its source, the paracetamol blocks pain signals to the brain, and the caffeine speeds up the therapeutic action of pain-relieving components.

On their effectiveness at treating migraine symptoms, one of our reviewers said: “I have bad migraines, and these are the only tablets that work for me.” Like paracetamol, two Anadin tablets can be taken with water up to four times a day, with no more than 8 taken in any 24-hour period.

Solpadeine Plus

Like Anadin, Solpadeine Plus contains three active ingredients to alleviate acute mild to moderate pain: in the case of Solpadeine, those ingredients are paracetamol, codeine and caffeine, which in combination provide relief from migraines and headaches as well as period pain, rheumatic pain and sciatica.

Unlike Anadin, however, Solpadeine tablets are soluble, so they are suited to those who have difficulty swallowing tablets. While Solpadeine tablets provide effective short-term relief for migraines, due to their addictive properties they should not be used for more than 3 consecutive days. If your symptoms persist, you should speak to a doctor or pharmacist.

Migraleve

Migraleve is a specialised migraine medication that targets pain fast — right from the moment symptoms start to occur — and can also relieve nausea and vomiting associated with a migraine. It contains a triple-action formula of paracetamol, codeine and buclizine.

Migraleve Tablets come in two forms, which are often most effective when taken in conjunction with one another:

  • Migraleve Pink should be taken at the first sign of a migraine attack. If taken at the onset of a migraine, one Migraleve Pink tablet can stop symptoms in their tracks before they become too severe, allowing you to get on with your day.
  • Migraleve Yellow should be taken at least four hours after your dose of Migraleve Pink if migraine symptoms persist. You can continue to take Migraleve Yellow every 4 hours, but do not take more than 8 tablets (pink and yellow) in a 24-hour period.

It should be noted that due to their addictive nature, Migraleve Pink and Migraleve Yellow tablets should be taken for a maximum of 3 consecutive days. If symptoms persist beyond this period, you should consult a doctor or pharmacist to explore an alternative migraine treatment.

If you’re suffering from a migraine — or you’re experiencing warning signs that one may be imminent — you can purchase any of the above migraine relief treatments online from The Independent Pharmacy today. We can even deliver them the very next working day, so you can treat the symptoms quickly and go about your day without a migraine getting in your way.

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