How to Use Prednisone for Migraine Headaches

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Young woman with her hand on her head in pain. (Image: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Prednisone, or Deltasone, is a corticosteroid utilized as a headache preventative. HeadacheMigraineRelease.com suggests that Prednisone is ideal to relieve the acute pain associated with status migraines, which are migraines with an extended headache phase lasting more than 5 hours. Prednisone mimics the function of endogenous steroids and you must closely follow the directives of your physician in order to prevent a steroid imbalance. Although the National Headache Foundation lists corticosteroids, like prednisone, as effective migraine preventatives, you should try to eliminate your migraines through tight regulation of your environment before subjecting yourself to the risk of taking a daily corticosteroid.

Step 1

Consult a neurologist. You must first ensure that you are a good candidate to take prednisone as a migraine preventative. Many factors, such as blood clots, instigate migraines and cannot be stopped by taking prednisone. A neurologist can determine if corticosteroids are an ideal treatment to stop your migraines.

Step 2

Evaluate metabolic and lipid lab results. Prednisone’s possible side effects to kidney and liver function require that you receive regular lab results to check on your metabolic and lipid response to the medication.

Step 3

Ensure that you do not have any infections or a high risk of future infection. Prednisone’s primary function is to suppress your immune response. You should avoid contact with anyone who is sick while taking this medication. If you become sick, you should immediately contact your doctor to determine if you should reduce or stop taking prednisone.

Step 4

Take prednisone as prescribed. Your neurologist may prescribe a daily tablet to be taken at approximately the same time every day, or you may have to take the medication in a dosage packet that begins treatment with a large dose of prednisone and slowly decreases the amount over a two-week period.

Step 5

Follow a diet rich in calcium, potassium and low in salt. Fluid and sodium retention, along with potassium loss, are common side effects of prednisone. Diets low in salt and rich in potassium will act as a healthy preventative. Osteoporosis is a typical long-term side effect of prednisone use. If you are prescribed prednisone as a daily preventative medication, a diet rich in calcium will help prevent onset of osteoporosis.

Step 6

Slowly wean yourself off of prednisone under the supervision of your neurologist to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Headache, dizziness and disturbed sleep are common withdrawal symptoms associated with prednisone.

Tip

Carrying a medical identification card that informs any physician that you are on prednisone is important in cases of emergency care.

Warning

All corticosteroids may reduce your ability to fight an infection by reducing your immune response.

Prednisone has many possible side effects, all of which should be reported to your physician immediately. Typical side effects of prednisone include sodium and fluid retention, potassium loss, osteoporosis, skin rashes or acne, weight gain, mood changes, increased hair growth and sweating, decreased muscle strength, decreased sexual desire and trouble sleeping. Atypical side effects of prednisone include vision problems, seizures, severe mood changes, confusion, stomach trouble, irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing.

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