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Migraine Headaches HOL-emblem1-web.GIF (3556 bytes)


Available in: Tablets

Drug Class: Antirnigraine/antiheadache drug

Brand Names: Imigran, Imitrex

Why It's Prescribed

To treat severe, acute migraine headaches (sumatriptan is not effective against any other kinds of pain or headache). Because of the risk of side effects, sumatriptan is generally used only when other migraine treatments prove ineffective.

How Does It Work?

It appears that sumatriptan activates chemical rnessengers that cause blood vessels in the brain to constrict, thus lessening the effects of a migraine. The drug not only relieves the pain, but also nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound and light, and other symptoms associated with migraines.

Dosage Guidelines
bulletRange And Frequency: Initial dose: 6 rng injection. Additional doses: Another 6 rng injection separated by at least one hour.
bulletOnset Of Effect: Within 10 to 20 minutes.
bulletDuration Of Action: Unknown, but with peak effect within 1 to 2 hours.

Dietary Advice

Do not fast or skip meals, since this may trigger a migraine. Try to eat at least three meals a day, at the same times each day. Avoid foods that contain preservatives (such as nitrates and nitrites) and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Also avoid large amounts of salt or caffeine.


Keep away from heat and direct light; do not allow solution to freeze.


Over 60: No special problems are expected.

Driving and Hazardous Work: Sumatriptan may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medication affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid alcohol.

Pregnancy: Do not use this drug while pregnant.

Breast Feeding: Do not use this drug while breast feeding.

Infants and Children: Sumatriptan is not recommended for infants and children.

What Are The Possible Side Effects?

Sumatriptan has a powerful constricting effect on the heart and blood vessels and as a result has caused fatal heart spasms and possibly fatal strokes. Migraine headaches are unbearable, but they aren't worth dying over. If you have any type of heart disease or are at risk for heart disease, do not take this drug. Your physician should fully evaluate your heart disease risk before prescribing this drug, and the first dose should be given in the physician's office.

Taken regularly, sumatriptan can cause damage to the eyes. It often causes a tingling sensation which is not harmful. It can also cause dizziness, a sensation of tightness or heaviness, numbness, coldness or warmth, drowsiness, weakness, a stiff neck and flushing.

Other possible side effects include: allergic reactions, kidney and liver impairment, impotence, jaw or chest tightness, seizures, joint pain, stiffness and swelling, mental confusion, sleep disturbance, depression, suicidal tendencies, skin rashes and flu symptoms. In addition, you could experience diarrhea, unusual thirst, asthma, blood sugar imbalances, weight gain or loss, intestinal bleeding, peptic ulcer, breast tenderness, abortion, speech or voice disturbance, deafness, allergy to sunlight, and shock.

Caution: Think Twice About Taking This Drug If ...
bulletYou have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.
bulletYour migraine headache is different than usual.
bulletYou tend to have hypersensitivity or severe allergic reactions.
bulletYou have kidney or liver disease.
bulletYou have a history of seizures.
bulletYou have eye problems, especially glaucoma.

Drug Interactions: Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine), lithium, MAO inhibitors, dihydroergotamine, or ergotamine.

What Are The Interactions With Food? Eating food delays absorption by 30 minutes.

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