- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- What is sumatriptan, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for sumatriptan?
- Is sumatriptan available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for sumatriptan?
- What are the side effects of sumatriptan?
- What is the dosage for sumatriptan?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with sumatriptan?
- Is sumatriptan safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about sumatriptan?
What is sumatriptan, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Sumatriptan is a drug that is used for treating migraine headaches. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin receptor agonists. Other members of this class include naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), rizatriptan (Maxalt), frovatriptan (Frova), eletriptan (Relpax), and almotriptan (Axert).
Migraine headaches are believed to result from dilatation of blood vessels in the brain. Sumatriptan relieves migraines by stimulating serotonin receptors in the brain which cause the muscles surrounding the blood vessels in the brain to contract and narrow the blood vessels. At the same time, it also reduces transmission of pain signals by nerves to the brain. While it is very effective in relieving migraine headaches, it does not prevent or reduce the number of headaches. The FDA approved sumatriptan in December 1992.
What brand names are available for sumatriptan?
Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro
What are the side effects of sumatriptan?
Side effects are generally transient. Some common side effects of sumatriptan:
- pain or tightness in the chest or throat,
- abdominal discomfort,
- nasal irritation, and
- injection site reactions.
Rarely, allergic reactions have been reported, usually in individuals who are highly allergic to multiple allergens. Sumatriptan may elevate blood pressure in individuals with or without a history of high blood pressure. Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure should not use sumatriptan.
Other important, but rare, side effects associated with sumatriptan include:
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
What is the dosage for sumatriptan?
- The recommended oral dose is 25-100 mg and the maximum dose is 200 mg daily.
- The recommended intranasal dose is 5-20 mg and the maximum dose is 40 mg daily.
- The recommended injection dose is 4 or 6 mg injected under the skin. T
- he maximum dose is two 6 mg injections separated by 1 hour.
- The recommended dose for the Zecuity patch is one patch applied to dry intact, non-irritated skin on the upper arm or thigh on a site that is relatively hair free and is without scars, tattoos, abrasions, or other skin conditions.
Which drugs or supplements interact with sumatriptan?
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane), may reduce the breakdown of sumatriptan in the liver, leading to increased blood levels and side effects of sumatriptan.
Combining sumatriptan with sibutramine (Meridia), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, including fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, including venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) may increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain, causing increased serotonin-related side effects.
Administering sumatriptan within 24 hours of treatment with an ergot-containing medication (dihydroergotamine [Migranal], ergotamine [Methergine]) is contraindicated because such combinations increase the likelihood of vasospasms.
Is sumatriptan safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Safe use in pregnancy has not been established.
Sumatriptan is excreted in breast milk. Infant exposure may be reduced by avoiding breast feeding for 12 hours after administration of sumatriptan.
What else should I know about sumatriptan?
What preparations of sumatriptan are available?
- Tablets: 25, 50, 100 mg
- Intranasal Solution: 5, 20 mg
- Injection Solution: 4 and 6 mg/0.5 ml
- Transdermal System (Patch): 86 mg (6.5 mg over 4 hours)
How should I keep sumatriptan stored?
- Sumatriptan tablets and solution should be stored between 2 C and 30 C (36 F and 86 F).
- The patch should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
Sumatriptan (Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro) is in a class of drugs referred to as selective serotonin receptor agonists, and is prescribed for the treatment of migraine and cluster headaches. Side effects, warnings and precautions, and drug interaction information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Surprising Reasons You're in Pain With Pictures
Examine the varying causes of pain. Pain may be caused by simple, everyday objects, tasks and activities such as the way you sit,...
Migraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
What does a migraine feel like? Discover the difference between headaches and migraines. Learn to spot migraine symptoms early,...
Balance Disorders: Vertigo, Motion Sickness, Labyrinthitis, and More
What is vertigo? What causes dizziness? Understand different balance disorders and symptoms such as vertigo, motion sickness,...
Slideshow: 12 Surprising Headache Triggers Tips
Painful headaches can ruin your productivity and quality of life. But what triggers headaches and migraines? Learn some...
How Does Acupuncture Work? Benefits, Needles, Definition
What is acupuncture? How does acupuncture work? Does acupuncture hurt? Learn various acupuncture points, the definition of...
Stress Quiz: Test Your Emotional IQ
Stress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If...
Vertigo and Balance Disorders Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the quiz and find out the causes, symptoms, treatments, and ways to prevent the confusing balance disorder called vertigo....
Headaches Quiz: Learn About Headache Pain
If you're plagued with headaches, our Headaches Quiz may help you identify causes, triggers, symptoms, and treatments for...
Pain Quiz: Test Your IQ of Pain
Is pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we...
Migraine Headaches: 14 Non-Drug Treatments for Migraines
Learn about 14 non-drug treatments for migraines. Acupuncture, biofeedback and massage therapy are among this list of non-drug...
Related Disease Conditions
Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches,...
Vertigo (Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Home Remedies)
Vertigo is the sensation of spinning or rocking, even when someone is at rest. Vertigo may be caused by a problem in the brain or...
Migraine headaches are severe headaches that are sensitive to light, sounds, and smells. Some people who suffer from...
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms, Diet, Treatment, and Test
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms of: Abdominal...
The term cluster headache is a type of headache that recurs over a period of time. There are episodes that last one to three...
Abdominal Migraines in Children and Adults
Abdominal migraine in adults and children is a variant of migraine headaches. Abdominal migraine in children generally occurs in...
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)
Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a condition in which affected individuals have severe nausea and vomiting that come in cycles....
Pain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive...
Chronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Headaches FAQs
- Pain FAQs
- Stress FAQs
- Vertigo Balance Disorders FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Vestibular Migraine and Janet Jackson
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Many Migraine Sufferers Given Unecessary Opioids, Study Finds
- Surgery May Help Teens With Frequent Migraines, Study Contends
- Many Migraine Sufferers Given Narcotic Painkillers, Barbiturates
- Study Rates Migraine Medications
- Battery-Operated Skin Patch Offers New Option for Migraine Sufferers
- No Proof Drugs Ease Kids' Migraines: Study
- FDA Approves 1st Skin Patch to Combat Migraines
- Two-Drug Combo Helps Teens With Migraines
- Too Many Heart Patients Getting Migraine Drugs
Daily Health News
Migraines and Headaches Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top sumatriptan Related ArticlesComplete List
Abdominal Migraines in Children and AdultsAbdominal migraine in adults and children is a variant of migraine headaches. Abdominal migraine in children generally occurs in children who have a family history of migraines. Causes of abdominal migraine is not known. Symptoms of abdominal migraine include acute, severe, midline abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, paleness, and inability to eat. Abdominal migraine is diagnosed through patient history, family history, and ruling out other medical causes. Treatment of abdominal migraine include tricyclic antidepressants and triptans.
Balance SlideshowWhat is vertigo? What causes dizziness? Understand different balance disorders and symptoms such as vertigo, motion sickness, Labyrinthitis, nausea, and more.
Chronic PainChronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments.
Cluster HeadachesThe term cluster headache is a type of headache that recurs over a period of time. There are episodes that last one to three times a day during a period of time, which may last from 2 weeks to 3 months. There are three main types of treatment:
- abortive medications,
- preventive medications,
- or surgery which involves blocking the trigeminal nerve.
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)Cyclic vomiting syndrome is a condition in which affected individuals have severe nausea and vomiting that come in cycles. Researchers believe that cyclic vomiting syndrome and migraine headaches are related. Triggers of cyclic vomiting syndrome are emotional stress and infections. People with cyclic vomiting syndrome are at an increased risk of dehydration. Cyclic vomiting syndrome is difficult to diagnose. Treatment varies from person to person, but is generally directed toward relief of the symptoms of the condition.
HeadacheHeadaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Migraine TriggersPainful headaches can ruin your productivity and quality of life. But what triggers headaches and migraines? Learn some surprising causes of headaches and migraines plus how to find relief.
Headaches QuizIf you're plagued with headaches, our Headaches Quiz may help you identify causes, triggers, symptoms, and treatments for headache pain caused by different types of headaches such as migraines, sinus, cluster, tension, or stress.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms of:
- Abdominal pain
- Increased gas (flatulence)
- Abdominal cramping
- Food intolerance
Two new tests are now available that may help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) and irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D). Treatment for IBS includes diet changes, medications, and other lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
Migraine headaches are severe headaches that are sensitive to light, sounds, and smells. Some people who suffer from migraines also have severe head pain. People also have symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Common migraine triggers may include:
- Certain foods
- Changes in barometric pressure
- Other phenomenon
They are diagnosed by a doctor if the headache pattern fits established migraine headache criteria. Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications are sometime used to treat acute migraines. To prevent or reduce the frequency and severity of them doctors recommend supplements and prescription medications, for example:
- Blood pressure drugs
- Anti-seizure drugs
Lifestyle modification helps in migraine management. Many people who suffer from migraines get relief from their condition by keeping a headache diary, identifying and avoiding triggers, and taking appropriate medication.
Migraines SlideshowWhat does a migraine feel like? Discover the difference between headaches and migraines. Learn to spot migraine symptoms early, how to identify your triggers, and get more information on migraine medications and treatments.
Pain ManagementPain management and treatment can be simple or complex, according to its cause. There are two basic types of pain, nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain. Some causes of neuropathic pain include:
- complex regional pain syndrome,
- interstitial cystitis,
- and irritable bowel syndrome.
Take the Pain QuizIs pain all in the brain? Take the Pain Quiz to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about the unpleasant sensation we call pain.
Reasons You're in PainExamine the varying causes of pain. Pain may be caused by simple, everyday objects, tasks and activities such as the way you sit, wear your hair, what you eat and many other surprising reasons you are in pain.
Take the Stress QuizStress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If you're suffering, there are things you can do. Take the Stress Quiz to learn what you can do to beat the long-term effects of chronic stress.
Vertigo OverviewVertigo is the sensation of spinning or rocking, even when someone is at rest. Vertigo may be caused by a problem in the brain or spinal cord or a problem within in the inner ear. Head injuries, certain medications, and female gender are associated with a higher risk of vertigo. Medical history, a physical exam, and sometimes an MRI or CT scan are required to diagnose vertigo. The treatment of vertigo may include:
- special exercises to reposition loose crystals in the inner ear, or
- exercises designed to help the patient re-establish a sense of equilibrium.