Migraine headaches can be agonizing and very painful. While we have some drugs to abort acute attacks, most drugs used to prevent migraines do not always work. One drug, which has been shown to prevent migraines, is Topamax. Topamax is actually an anticonvulsant drug used to treat seizures in adults and children. However, it has also been approved to treat migraine headaches in adults and it works quite well.
While not approved by the FDA for other illnesses, Topiramate has also been used to treat tremors, nerve pain, cluster headaches, eating disorders, alcohol dependence, and bipolar disorder.
What is the dose of Topamax?
The main thing about Topamax is to continue the drug even if one is not having symptoms. The usual starting dose of Topamax is around 20 mg but one can go as high as 400 mg per day. In most cases, at doses of 200 mg per day, it works well. One can take 100 mg in the morning and 100 mg just before bedtime.
If Topamax is stopped, migraine headaches can come back. To start one should start slow and low. Fifty mg twice a day is a reasonable dose and this dose can be slowly increased to 200-400 mg per day over a few weeks. Some individuals require a high dose of 400 mg per day to prevent migraines.
Is Topamax Safe?
Unlike many other anti migraine drugs, Topamax does not cause weight gain, in fact most individuals lose weight.
At low doses, Topamax has very few side effects. However, as the dose is increased, some individuals may develop side effects. The major side effects include difficulty with cognition, loss of concentration, decreased attention span and slowed speech.
Who should not take Topamax?
Women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding need to discuss the issue of Topamax with their physician. The drug has not been well studied in this group of individuals and there is always a possibility the drug can cause birth defects. Breastfeeding is definitely not recommended when taking Topamax.
How should I take Topamax?
Topamax can be taken twice a day and is best swallowed. If the pill is crushed, it does have a bitter taste. One may take the pill with or without foods. Studies have shown that most individuals find a relief from migraine headaches at a dose of around 200 mg per day.
If the dose of Topamax is missed and only a few hours have lapsed, then take the pill. However, if the time lapsed is close to your next dose, never double the dose.
All individuals who take Topamax should understand that this drug can interact with other drugs and alcohol. Avoid taking alcohol and other mood stabilizers with Topamax.
One rare side effect of Topamax is that it does make the individual sweat even at rest- so avoid warm environments and drink lots of water
For those individuals who have minimal side effects, Topamax is an excellent drug for migraine prevention. Like many mood stabilizers, Topamax does take a few weeks to take effect. For individuals who suffer from recurrent migraines, it is worth discussing this drug with your physician.
Note: Only your doctor can decide which medications are right for you. Never stop, start or change the way you use a prescription medicine without first consulting your doctor.