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Do you wait or jump on treating a migraine attack? We asked, you answered!

While some of us treat a migraine attack as soon as we experience the first symptom, others try to wait it out to see if it’s going to be a bad one before taking anything. We wanted to know what you do when you have a migraine on the horizon, so we asked you to respond to the following question: Are you an early jumper or a waiter? How do you decide when to treat your migraine?

Nearly 100 of you replied! Here’s what you had to say!

I’m a waiter!

  • I’m a waiter.
  • I wait and regret it every time.
  • I wait until its horrible – only some get horrible.
  • I try to wait, but the pain gets so severe that I have to take something.
  • I usually wait until it’s too late, as I don’t want to waste my abortive medications if I don’t get the migraine.
  • I’m a waiter. I always kind of wonder if it really is migraine this time…and it always is. I know because it never ends without a triptan.
  • I’m a waiter too because I’m on topomax and imitrex upsets my stomach so much that I will wait until I can’t stand it.
  • I am a waiter, or I often choose Advil over the toradol, but then it is too late.
  • I’m a waiter – I have denial. I would think after 18 years I would jump on it but always trying to save my meds.
  • Unfortunately, I tend to wait. What’s that about? I need to take control and use my pain meds early.
  • I usually wait. Since starting almotriptan, they have not been bad, but I get silent migraines with some auras now.

Insurance or having a limited number of pills impacts my decision on when to treat

  • I’m a waiter because of insurance.
  • I’m a waiter. My 9 pills a month could be gone in 5 days on a bad week.
  • I wait since insurance only gives me 9 maxalt tablets each month.
  • Unfortunately I am a waiter because insurance only pays for 9 pills a month.
  • I wait because I only get 9 Treximet pills per month.
  • I’m a waiter. I try to save my precious meds due to the fact I’m only allowed 9 per month.
  • I wait usually until it’s too late. Insurance limits what kind and how many meds I can take.
  • My insurance limits the amount of migraine meds I can have each month, so I’m a waiter – or as my doctor calls it, a medicine hoarder.
  • I prefer to jump right on as soon as I feel it start. The indecision lies the fact that we are so limited in the number of abortives we are allotted.

I’m a jumper

  • WOW I am a jumper.
  • I’m a jumper, because waiting leads to an ER visit!
  • I just panic at the slightest chance of a migraine coming!
  • I’m an early jumper for sure! It’s the crux of having a bad or not so bad migraine.
  • I jump to it. The sooner I treat, the more likely I can abort the migraine. Unfortunately it’s not always the case, but I like to think it’s worth the shot
  • I’ve become a leaper! I’ve learned the wait does zero good.
  • I’m an early jumper for sure. If I wait, no matter what I take, my migraine will not go away or even ease up.
  • I’ve been a jumper for years, I have abusinesses to run, a child to raise, a home to care for… who has time to be down!?
  • I’m a jumper as soon as I feel it coming on. (I take sumutriptan.) If I don’t, I risk not getting on top of it!

Sometimes I wait, sometimes I jump

  • It depends. Sometimes I wait to see if its one I will be able to deal with without having to take meds, but I do recognize when it is one that needs meds immediately.
  • It all depends on the severity of it. If is a slow creeper I wait to see where it’s going but if I wake with one or if one slams me out of no where, I have no option other than grab the prescription bottle and head to my cave.
  • It depends on the situation. I generally always jump early with ibuprofen at least, but if I have to drive home or something, I will wait on the migraine meds because they can make me a little woozy.
  • It depends on the severity of the migraine & how many shots I have left.
  • I awaken every morning with a headache. I wait until I have my first cup of coffee to determine if I need medication or not! If the caffeine doesn’t work, I jump to my meds!
  • It depends – sometimes I wait and others I run for them. It’s tough to know what these buggers are up to.
  • It’s a bit of both. I jump in when I can tell it’s going to be bad, but I wait if it’s just the ‘usual’ chronic symptoms.
  • I’ve been both depending on amount of medication I have.

I’m a former waiter

  • I used to be a waiter but now I’m a jumper!
  • I’m a former waiter, current jumper.
  • I used to be a waiter, but now I treat at first symptom because I have learned that I end up in the ER if I do not.
  • I used to be a waiter but now I’m a jumper! It’s much better than waiting!

What about you? Do you treat your migraine attack as soon as you feel one coming on, or do you wait before treating? Share with us in the comments!


  • Patchwork
    4 years ago

    I am a waiter by necessity. Even my neurologist has encouraged me to wait it out a bit before resorting to medication because I will often get prolonged aura symptoms without it ever developing into a full-blown migraine. And by full-blown I mean pain of the head exploding variety because I typically have some level of head pain every day, but I can’t go running to the medicine cabinet constantly because I fear invoking the dreaded medication overuse headache, not to mention that I worry about what all these various medications might be doing to my body in the long term.

    I also tend to wait because I haven’t found an abortive medication that is super effective for me. Most of the triptans don’t do anything for me at all, and those that do only have about a 60% chance to work, which unfortunately occurs after making all my symptoms worse for about an hour (it worsens regardless of whether the medicine is going to work). Alas, my current insurance doesn’t cover the two triptans that I’ve found to be somewhat effective. I currently rely upon a combination of Fiorinal, OTC meds, and a rapidly dwindling supply of Relpax sample packs (not covered by insurance).

  • MahtaMouse
    4 years ago

    I’m a waiter and always live to regret it. I get SO mad at myself but will wait because I worry about what years of OTC and RX have done, and continue to do, to my liver, stomach, etc. Yet I know darn well that if I go to bed at night with the slightest bit of a headache, I won’t sleep it off but will wake the next morning with a raging headache that prevents me from getting out of bed for my meds and will progress to a raging migraine. I’ve also learned to “ignore” the pain of a migraine coming on as long as I can physically keep moving and stay vertical (no bending to pick something up)… until it’s too late. It also took me years to connect this hideous smell that no one else smelled, to an impending mother-of-all-migraines; and THAT is the one and only time I will RUN and not walk to the medicine cabinet.

  • Ree Leeds
    4 years ago

    My mother, a retired nurse, told me to get a jump on it because whenever I waited on my pain it would hit a 9 or 10. Now that I am a jumper my migraine pain is only a 7 or 8. The hours of duration have gone from 14 down to 6 hours. Good luck sisters & brothers in pain.

  • abridge98
    4 years ago

    Even though I regret it about 98% of the time I’m a waiter. I only have about 9 pills at a time which I can use up the first few days of a migraine. I hate having to ask for more pills because the doctor looks at me like i’m a drug addict or something. And I also worry that I’ll waste a pill if it’s not really a migraine.

  • twila
    4 years ago

    The limit of nine pills was very frustrating for me. It seemed there were never enough. On a quirk, i tried splitting them in half to see if that was enough to cut the migraine. It worked! Then my teen granddaughter began getting migraines. She was able to split them into fourths! So i tried that. Usually it is enough if i don’t wait too long. If that happens then i can take another fourth–or even two more. This method has been a lifesaver for me! (i take Sumatriptan 100 mg. You can get little “pill splitters” at any pharmacy…about $2. It’s worth a try.)

  • Swiftee
    4 years ago

    I’m a waiter. But I think after my last visit to the ER I’ll be switching to jumper. I always end up regretting waiting it out.

  • Joxie
    4 years ago

    The very first sign of a migraine sends me to my meds. Waiting for a reprieve only puts me in a tailspin, often one that can last for days. Like others, my insurance plays a part. I try to stockpile Imitrex when I am feeling okay because my insurance only pays for 3 (yes 3) pills a month!

  • Lollyjosh83
    4 years ago

    Having Hemiplegic Migraine I jump and take Severadol (morphine sulphate tablets) as soon as the aura raises its head as the consequences of waiting and suffering the agonising headache, vomiting, paralysis, facial droop and inability to speak is not worth it. Stop it before it starts!

  • Jan
    4 years ago

    I have suffered with migraine since I was a child, I was age 7 when I became aware of having the attacks and of having to cope with them. I am now in my 60’s and have learned that if I can take medication the instant I feel an attack starting it will drastically reduce both the severity and the length of the attack. I am lucky that paracetamol usually helps and the attacks are less severe than when I was younger. The pattern has changed the past few years. The good news is that the frequency is less – the bad news that when I get an attack now I will almost certainly get one for the following 4 or 5 days. Then I can go a month or more with nothing. Another recent development which I found quite unsettling is that I have started smelling burning, like a smouldering which was so strong I eventually went to my GP who diagnosed it as part of the migraine. I find this sight very informative and supportive.

  • cosmicbabe
    4 years ago

    I’m a waiter but I keep telling myself I need to be a jumper. I feel grateful that my insurance gives me 12 Maxalt a month and my doctor was willing to write me a prescription for Imitrex also (which I hate taking since it makes me nauseated, but it gives me a backup if I’ve run out of Maxalt — and yes, I know not to take 2 different triptans in the same 24-hour period).

  • Jill M.
    4 years ago

    I like mygrainetoo’s description: Cautious Jumper. I can relate. I find myself waiting at times, and jumping at others depending on the type of migraine I have. Since I sometimes have an aura with my migraines, I will always take meds with these because I know what’s coming if I don’t. Other times, if I’m getting different types of prodromal symptoms, I will wait or maybe take an Aleve and see if the symptoms subside. If I get no relief in about 30-45 minutes, or if my symptoms worsen, I’ll go ahead and take a Maxalt to try to stop the migraine. My insurance will cover 12 Maxalt per month, but I still want to preserve them if I can. I’m also very cautious about using medication because I’ve been in the vicious cycle of medication overuse headache, and I don’t want to go there again! That was a horrible experience.

  • Sandy
    4 years ago

    I’ve been a waiter way too long. i find that only leads me to chronic problems. I find i had 2 types of main headaches: tension-type headaches and menstrual migraine. i have others, but those are the most frequent. I am learning to b a jumper. TTH if I don’t address right away, will become migraine. I too am limited by insurance, only 4 tripan pills per month, but yeah, 6 tripan nose sprays per month. and yes, 1 week of pms, or menstrual cycle, or ovulation could wipe that out. …. so, then…back to fiorcet, pain med…etc. or combo to stretch meds out. yes, i think i am so chronic from being a waiter partly due to the cost of meds and the limits, but not anymore. i am a jumper. time to take control of my health!!!!

  • Pammy
    4 years ago

    I used to be a waiter but now very much a jumper.
    I have used many products over the years and find Maxalt for me is by far the best product I have used.
    Need to take it early tho?

  • Lynn Voedisch
    4 years ago

    I read all the answers and despite the wisdom of jumping, I still wait. Like several others, I wake with an aching head, but wait to get some caffeine in me to see if that will ward off the headache. It often does. But when it doesn’t, it’s often too late for the triptans to do much good.
    I’m also shocked at how many people are limited to 9 triptans per month. At my clinic, the doctors have gotten around that by prescribing one generic triptan and the one name brand. The insurance companies are really only concerned with paying as little as possible for name brands. I usually get about 18 or more a month–and still I hoard them. The doc also gives out samples of Relpax, which my insurance refuses to pay for.

  • Jane O'Neill
    5 years ago

    I too am limited to this 9 sumatriptan / mo. Wish insurance co. Would loosen that up a bit. Would make all of us happier & would definitely improve the quality of life of so many migraine sufferers! Isn’t that what we are all hoping for in this life? To enjoy some good days! So I’m a waiter & a jumper, depending on my commitments that day or if I can stay in & just take something over the counter & suffer in a dark room. My sumatriptan is my lifeline, only thing that works, but unfortunately is too limited in amount available!

  • abridge98
    4 years ago

    I agree 100%!

  • thisisendless
    5 years ago

    When I was symptomatic every day I Was a waiter to see if it would get bad. It averaged a 5 most days so I just dealt with it.

    But currently I am on a med that is keeping them well controlled (for now, crosses fingers it lasts awhile), so I can take meds right away when they happen. I take Midrin as an abortive instead of a triptan. I only use triptans when it’s REALLY bad, and haven’t had to use one in many months. The naratriptan makes me very woozy, so I avoid it unless it’s an emergency.

    The other deciding factor (especially when they are chronic) is whether it’s a “special occasion” or not. It is a concert or a party that means a lot to me? Then I will take something at the first sign of anything because I am determined to not let migraine (or my other chronic pain condition) ruin that event.

  • Jill M.
    4 years ago

    I’m a fan of Midrin also. I nearly cried when they took it off the market!! It’s been one of the best abortives I’ve ever used, triptans included. I was so relieved when I found a pharmacy that compounded it. Of course now that it’s sold under different names, it’s not that difficult to get.

  • shine4him
    5 years ago

    When you guys first posted this on FB, I responded that I am a waiter. But since then I thought about it and decided to experiment a bit and take my triptan earlier, to see if it helped. It did! I was able to completely avoid a few migraine attacks that way. So I think I’m slowly migrating over into being a jumper. At least I don’t wait as long as I used to!

  • Karen Suitor
    5 years ago

    I’ve had migraines nearly 40 yrs, daily for the past 10. No preventatives or other migraine meds worked well for me so now I just give in to the daily rebound headaches. To save money I sometimes use Arthrotec which usually manages the pain but only for a few hrs. Mostly I rely on Almotriptan, which I cut into quarters. Lately I usually wake during the night with mild pain & immediately take 1/2-3/4 pill & go back to bed. If the pain doesn’t start until later I might wait, sometimes it goes away after some food & coffee, or just on its own. It’s amazing how happy that makes me!

  • mygrainetoo
    5 years ago


    I’ve found that if taking 2 aspirins 15 minutes apart with coffee doesn’t stop the escalating pain in the 15 minutes following the 2nd aspirin (30 minutes start to finish), I have a migraine coming on at which point I take a Fioricet.

    Life is too short, especially now in my mid-60’s, and have I lost enough time to migraines.

  • John
    5 years ago

    For many many years I’ve suffered from chronic, cluster, classic and asaphalgic migraines. Each for me requires a little different timing and my insurance often is a deciding factor as to being a jumper or a waiter

  • Desdemica
    5 years ago

    I’m lucky that I have a medical exception on file with my insurance company due to chronic migraine, so I get 18 naratriptan per month. But I’m still a waiter most of the time. Meds will usually take care of the pain, but leave me groggy and brain dead. My job requires me to be sharp and my immmediate supervisor is a migraine “nonbeliever.” I split pills in half for a while, but in the end, that led to rebound migraines. Now I just try to wait till bedtime if it’s not a severe attack.

  • Stagemom
    5 years ago

    After more than 50 years of having migraines I can usually tell if I can ignore the feeling of an about-to-happen headache or if I have to reach for the meds. An aura or a whack in the head means heavy duty meds NOW! But a mild feeling of sleepiness or dizzyness that passes calls for doing nothing. Anything in between I will wait or grab some tylenol and caffeine.

  • LAnnSmith
    5 years ago

    Good idea to split the triptan pills, it never occurred to me. I wonder if I can get relief from half a pill if I ‘jump’ early enough, then my 12 Maxalt a month might be 24.


  • shine4him
    5 years ago

    I split my Imitrex all the time. In fact, I put a note in at my pharmacy to give me a specific generic that is big enough for me to break by hand, so I don’t have to depend on carrying a pill cutter everywhere. Usually if the Imitrex is going to have an effect, half will work just as well as the full. Plus it cuts back on the side effects.

    My insurance only gives me 4 a month, so it really just comes down to necessity.

  • dmae
    5 years ago

    I’m also a casualty of insurance rationing sumatriptan to 9 pills a month. Also, because it has a sedative effect, I can’t take a full suma. at work. However, I’ve been stung by the waiting game too many times, so I’ve started splicing my pills into fourths with a pill cutter. At the first hint of a behind-the-eye pinch, phantom taste of dirt or metal, or blind spot, I take a quarter of a pill. This often chases the demon away.

  • Beth
    5 years ago

    I’m a waiter. I want to see how bad it’s going to be. If I can, I’ll take my 1 medication…because insurance will only allow me 9 pills of the abortive medication.

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