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Should you use aspirin to treat a migraine?

health-and-fitness Updated: Apr 22, 2010 14:45 IST
Amy Norton
Amy Norton
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A single dose of aspirin can bring at least temporary pain relief to about half the population with migraine, a new research review suggests. Research shows that about half of people with migraines opt to use over-the-counter pain relievers only, with aspirin being a common choice. But it has not been clear exactly how well aspirin performs.

In the new review, UK researchers analysed 13 clinical trials in which patients were randomly assigned to treat their migraine attacks with either a single dose of 900 to 1,000 mg of aspirin or a comparison treatment — either a placebo or an active drug, usually the prescription migraine drug Sumatriptan.

Aspirin does help
Overall, the review found, 52 per cent of aspirin users got at least some pain relief within two hours — meaning their pain was reduced from severe to moderate to ‘no worse than mild’. that compared with 32 per cent of those using a placebo. similarly, one-quarter of aspirin users were pain-free within two hours, versus 11 per cent of placebo users. aspirin also appeared to reduce some of the other symptoms that can come with migraine attacks, including nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. but a combination of aspirin and the anti-nausea medication reglan worked even better.