Medication Information Leaflet

What is Migraine?

A migraine is a very painful type of headache. It usually begins slowly, worsens over minutes to hours and resolves slowly at the end of attack. 

Migraine headache often comes with nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. Some people may have aura symptoms before a migraine. 

What are the possible causes of this condition?

Migraine can be caused by a variety of reasons such as: 

  • Stress 
  • Menstrual periods
  • Physical exertion 
  • Low energy, lack of sleep 
  • Hunger
  • Head injury 
  • Certain food or drinks that contain ingredients such as nitrites, glutamate, aspartate, tyramine
  • Certain medicines such as birth control pills 
  • Perfumes, cigarettes, and chemicals with a strong odour 

What are the symptoms of migraine?

The symptoms of this condition can include the following:

  • Dull, deep, steady pain which turns into a throbbing headache as it worsens
  • Pain that is usually worse on one side of the head

You may get other symptoms just before a migraine, such as: 

  • Feeling very tired and yawning a lot 
  • Craving certain food or feeling thirsty 
  • Changes in your mood
  • A stiff neck 

You may also get warning signs you are about to have a migraine (called an aura), such as:

  • Problems with your sight, such as seeing zigzag lines, bright spots or flashing lights
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers of one hand, lips, tongue or lower face
  • Feeling dizzy 
  • Difficulty speaking 

What can I do to treat migraine?

Migraine can be treated in the following ways, and you can approach your pharmacist to get the following medications. 

  • Paracetamol, Paracetamol with Codeine, Paracetamol with Codeine and Caffeine
  • Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac

When do I need to see a doctor?

Although migraine can be treated without a doctor’s consultation, there are times where the condition might be more serious. 

If your condition does not get better in 3 days or aura symptoms last longer than an hour at a time or gets worse, you should see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • You are having speech, vision or movement problems or loss of balance
  • Your headaches are worse when lying down
  • Treatments that once worked are no longer helpful
  • Headache patterns or pain change
  • The headache starts very suddenly

What else can I do to manage this condition?

Other than using medications to treat the condition, migraine can also be managed by the following methods:

  • Drink water to avoid dehydration, especially if you are vomiting 
  • Rest in a dark, quiet room 
  • Place a piece of cool cloth on your head

The following are some suggestions to prevent migraines from happening again:

  • Avoid foods and situations that cause your migraines 
  • Avoid smoking 
  • Avoid alcohol 
  • Get plenty of sleep each night
  • Learn to relax and reduce stress


This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.

The content above is solely for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.

Last updated on November 2023

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