Hello Rachel Anne,
Welcome to the Migraine Forum. I'm sorry to hear your new to Migraines. You're asking the questions at the beginning rather than after you're caught in the vicious cycle of pain and medications and more pain.
The medication that your taking is called a "triptan" as we regulars like to refer to it. Taken right from Maxalt's website it works in the following manner (just in case you haven't found it already):
Treatment with MAXALT:
- Reduces swelling of blood vessels surrounding the brain. This swelling results in the headache pain of a migraine attack.
- Blocks the release of substances from nerve endings that cause more pain and other symptoms of migraine.
- Interrupts the sending of specific pain signals to your brain.
Migraine sufferers are susceptible to "Rebound Headaches" and "triptans" are a type of medication that can cause them. Rebound headaches occur when you take a medication so frequently that when you stop taking it you get a headache. There are different recommendations for how much you can take and not get rebound headaches. For triptans some say no more than 2 or 3 times a month, others say follow the rule 2 days on, 5 days off, in other words if you take something for 2 days don't take it again for another 5 days. Pain killers like Tylenol and narcotics like codeine also cause rebound headaches. There is a good article at http://www.healingwell.com/library/migraines/jolly1.asp.
The first step is to educate yourself. The are many articles on this website and many good books that you can get. The most common things that trigger headaches are food, stress and environmental factors - though I'm not a doctor, just lots of personal experience. There's a book called Heal Your Headache - 123 Program and it has a really good list of foods to avoid / test. For me preservatives, MSG and yeast are really bad. I didn't realize how many forms MSG came in until I read the book.
Stress is a really big one as well. I struggle with it daily. Those of us with migraines seem to be over-achievers. :) I meditate, take long baths and read trashy novels. I also try to exercise as much as possible. It raises my natural endorphins which help the pain and builds the strengh of my blood vessels.
I would also work on a pain management plan - preferably in partnership with your doctor / neurologist. For instance, I start with a Zomig (triptan), if that doesn't work, I try a second. Depending on the type of headache I will lay in a dark room with a cold compress or go have a warm bath. I sometimes listen to a meditation CD to help calm my breathng which can also calm the headache. Later if these haven't worked I take a combination of Valerian Root, 2 Tylenol 3s and 2 Toradol. I try to only take these as a last resort.
If you find that you're having regular headaches, weekly or daily, it's probably time to ask about preventative medications, like anti-epileptic, beta blockers, etc. Though if you want to avoid medications then try the lifestyle changes. It's hard but it is possible.
And finally, sorry for the long message, if you're neurologist isn't sympathetic or helpful, it's okay to ask for another one. Having a good relationship with your neurologist is important. S/he is the person you depend on for expert information.
Phew...lots of information. I hope I didn't overwhelm you or provide a lot that you already knew. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. Buddha