Abortive meds do they work?

hi there everyone :smiley:
have been recently diagnoised with MAV before xmas and currently recovering from an attack on boxing day. the neuro prescribed me ZOMIG 2.5 mg (4 pack) for acute attacks and sent me packing saying google diagnoisis. well had a moderate attack on boxing day began with imbalance 2 days previous, then worsened imbalance, rocking tilting and moving vertigo. the two days previous a took serc as i thought i was just over doing it and had the dizzies, then bang woke up day 3 and couldnt walk straight or stand up took zomig 10 minutes later no improvement after 3 hrs so took another one , 5 mg altogether. still no improvement not until 3 days later symptoms subsided gradually , week approx before i could go out again and balance properly. had been taing serc also during attack 3 times a day. the only benefit i saw was that the attack lasted for half the time it usually does so maybe the zomig did work, am confused :?
what i read was that these meds abort an attck when taken immediately or as soon as it begins… did i take it too late ?.. didnt have a headache and it mentions it works by targeting migraine headache and not helping aura symptoms… so maybe thats why it didnt work on my aura symptoms but maybe it worked by shortening my attack …

not sure on how to manage this condition or recognise warning signs as neuro said it can vary in intensity, length of time and migraine can vary as 2 of my attack were severe leaving me in hosp thought id had a stroke. so i can have mild to severe attacks and headache doesnt have to feature … WHAT !!! im so confused by this diagnoisis how do i recognise them then? what do i do to make life much easier. he mentioned topamax if attacks freq see how next few mths go and maybe ill look into this treatment. sorry if this doesnt make sense my head all over the place. :?

Hi Dizzybeana,

Typically, these meds are not useful for chronic migraineurs and may in fact make the whole situation worse. I can’t remember where exactly but I’m quite certain that Nicholos Silver says to give this a miss in his talk posted in the above sticky thread.

On the other hand, if your migraines are sporadic and you have a clear aura that occurs beforehand, they may be useful. It really depends on your migraine scenario I think.

Scott 8)

I don’t think Buccholz is very fond of abortives, either. Maybe I’ll drag out my book later on to check. Just my impression or my foggy memory!

The kid’s neurologist said that, unfortunately, abortive meds don’t work with MAV. I don’t remember now if she explained why or not. But she said that the thing you do with meds with MAV is use a prophylactic, which will, over a period of several weeks, wind the attack down. And then you stay on the prophylactic to prevent future attacks.


When I came off my amitriptyline in Sept I really thought i was stable (still dizzy but stable) how wrong I was when on Xmas eve I had attacks this lasted 10 days! I took stemetil , Ibpuprofen etc but nothing would stop it once it hits its like a hurricane for me anyway and nothing I do helps it has to run its course which is so hard when you have kids to look after! I know abortatives dont work for me but they do for others . Im back on the amitriptyline for me it doesnt stop the general dizziness but must of been stopping the relapses to some degree . Hope this helps

I dont know how long you have been on Serc but you dont get the benefits immediately. You need to be on it 2 to 5 weeks.
The triptans are not supposed to be taken by people with Basilar Migraine (its on the leaflet) and I consider our type of migraine very similar as I have been diagnosed with Basilar migraine and Vestibular Migraine etc. I tried the triptans in the past and my throat closed up. They work by constricting the blood vessels so if you had a bad migraine (painful head) they should work, but having said that, they didnt get rid of my migraine any more than 2 x good painkillers with codeine and caffeine in them and then, with the triptans my migraine came back 4 hours later.

I have a friend with violent painful migraines and the triptans have been her lifesaver, but hers are straightforward migraine and not dizziness etc. without headache which we often have.

Painkillers do work for me and help with the dizzies and all the other weird feelings but for me, thats because I cant find a preventative I can tolerate, but I only take the painkillers in very small doses.


Hi Dizzybeana,

I have experienced what I would describe as 3 ‘levels’ (for want of a better word) with migraine. 1) A ‘migraine’ with an obvious strat, aura (scintillating scotoma) nausea and feeling like death - the worst of which lasts an hour or two, then I feel washed out and crappy for the rest of the day and I’ll feel ‘hung over’ the next day. 2) Chronic migraine - aka MAV. Weeks and months of non stop rocking, spongy floors, anxity, agitation, derealisation, feeling like death etc. 3) Migraine ‘activity’. Lowish level feelings of physiological anxiety, face and sinus pain, agitation, light rocking etc - none of which is debilitating, but pretty uncomfortable.

For number 1 ‘a migraine’ - I have for many years tried Immigran as an abortive and/or three aspirin. I am told one has to take them asap - every second counts. To be honest I don’t think they have ever done anything for me - I still get the migraine - perhaps it would be worse if I dindn’t take it but I suspect not.

So I am currently using Prothiaden as a migraine prophylaxis. I do very well on it for number 2 - the chronic migraine. Sometimes I’ll get number 3 - migraine activity - and benzos (Valium) work very well for that. I still get number 1 migraines too but not too often and that’s life I guess.

Hope that helps.


thanks for your replies much appreciated. well am feeling much better but not back to normal normal what is that forget how it feels as i always have a baseline dizzy feeling of tilting, moving rocking etc as you all understand so well. went to see a vertigo specialist as ive been waiting to see her since before my diagnosis last dec 2010. she spent nearly 2 hrs asking questions and listening to my story… she also came to the conclusion that migraine is the culprit and not my ears, so at least the neuro and ear specialist agree, but said due to the two severe attacks i had, i may have have mild vestibular damage as i havent been able to fully recover to 100% only bout 80%. she explained that the migraine attacks i experience are rare and more complex than the normal migraine… she helped me understand triptans better, prescriped stemitil and new triptan called imigrain… she opened my eyes and i felt great after seeing her as i understood better
so am not going to give up on the triptans yet maybe they might work if i try them all, i should of taken it as soon as the off balance appeared but i didnt know as on the pack it says take when headache begins but she said that that doesnt apply to me,only to the more common form of migraines. the off balance feeling i always begin with is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain so thats when my attack begins as migraine affects the blood suppy , so thats when i have to take the triptan hope it works next time not soon though xxxx need a wee break

Hi Dizzybeana,

Imigran has been around for about 20 years - I have been prescribed it since the 90s. I’ve never had any luck with it stopping a migraine (when I have an acute attack with aura they come on very very quickly - no warning). I have taken the Imigran anyway in the hope it lessen the intensity and/or shorten the attack. In truth I don’t think they do.

Good luck and keep us posted of what is/isn’t working for you.