Of the many methods we have to get migraine medication into the body, one of the earliest and best to be used on a mass scale is the migraine nasal spray (also called a nasal inhaler). Part of the reason is that the technology was fairly simple, as opposed to some of the advance methods that are now being tried. But why not just take a pill? Is a nasal spray really worth it?
One of the most obvious problems with taking a pill during a migraine is the nausea. I’ve had migraine attacks where I throw up again and again (sorry to be graphic, but that’s migraine!). It’s almost impossible in some cases to get a pill to stay down.
But perhaps an even more widespread problem is something called gastric stasis. A very common but little known impairment in migraine patients, gastric stasis causes your digestive system to slow down, meaning that the medication isn’t properly absorbed. Imagine, taking all those pills (spending all that money!), and most of the medicine never gets into your system!
A migraine nasal spray (such as Zomig, Imitrex or Migranal) gets the medicine into your system faster, and hopefully more of the medication is actually absorbed.
But is faster better? Traditional wisdom says that the sooner you can stop the migraine attack, the better. Though some research has questioned just how fast you need to take the medication, it seems clear that the faster you can stop the migraine chain reaction the better.
Other methods are being developed to get the medicine you need into your system quickly. But while we wait, a migraine nasal spray early in an attack may be one of the best "delivery methods" early in an attack. Some migraineurs carry a dose with them, so they can head off a migraine attack early.
Preventative medicines may also be good candidates for nasal spray. Some research suggests that gastric stasis may be a feature of migraine disease that’s always there, not just during an attack. But the development of preventative drug delivery is still behind the abortives.
Meanwhile, ask your doctor what kinds of delivery options you have. A migraine nasal spray may give you more migraine-fighting power for your money.