The Headache Situation

How to look up side effects for headache and migraine medicines

December 30, 2018

How to look up side effects for headache and migraine medicines

In this episode, Dr. Edmund Messina, a Board certified neurologist and headache specialist follows up on how to look up headache (including migraine) medicine side effects and how to interpret your findings. He defines side effects vs. adverse effects and how to understand the severity or harmlessness of what is published.

He talks about how side effects are dependent on the individual person as well as other factors such as other medications, supplements and general health. Not everyone gets a side effect, most people get no side effects from most meds.  

Knowing that a medication MAY cause a side effect is not the reason to not try it. Being aware of side effects should be more of a guideline... it's not a call to action so you are on the alert for them. Just because a side effect has been reported in someone else, it does not mean that everyone gets it. Logically, it would be helpful to know what percentage of people have had problems with a medication, and we'll get to that soon.

He discusses adverse effects and offers a website to check them, the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) Public Dashboard. He talks about how to use the if needed.

He reviews how sometimes, widely popular medications have been taken off the market because of lethal outcomes.

For people concerned about safety, he discusses Medwatch ( ) , as well as Black Box warnings.

For those who simply want to see how probable side effects can be for a specific medication, he discusses Daily Med ( ).


He emphasizes that each patient needs to be considered as an individual and that generalities are not helpful.


As always, he urges headache patients to never give up, there is always something to help them.

Dr. Messina is certified in Neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and in Headache Medicine by the UCNS. Details of his credentials are found at .

Disclaimer: Remember, to listen to the disclaimer at the beginning of each podcast and the one on the The Headache Situation website ( Our podcasts are intended to be informational and educational and not intended to replace your doctor, physicians assistant or nurse practitioner. Do not make any health decisions based on the information discussed here, talk to your doctor.

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