- 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
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.
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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.
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.
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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:
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- Other phenomenon
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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.
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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.