In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for sumatriptan, trade name ImitrexTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Sumatriptan is used to treat the immediate pain of a migraine headache. This medication works by causing the blood vessels in your brain to narrow and decrease swelling. Sumatriptan also decreases the natural chemicals in your body that cause symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity as well as nausea and vomiting,
This medication may help stop a migraine from forming, decrease the need for other pain medications, and help someone get back to their normal activities quicker. Sumatriptan does not prevent future migraines; it only works for the migraine you are currently treating.
Sumatriptan is available in a tablet, nasal and injectable form. For this session, we are discussing the tablet form of the medication.
Sumatriptan works best when it is taken at the first sign of a migraine. If you are familiar with how your migraine starts, you may take this medication when you first notice it. You do not need to wait for the pain to begin. This medication is not to be taken on a regular basis; it is only taken as needed to treat a migraine headache.
If you do not have any relief of your migraine after you take your first dose of sumatriptan, do not take a second dose until you talk with your doctor. If you experience some relief, but the pain is still there, you may take another dose after 2 hours, unless your doctor told you not to. Your doctor will tell you how many tablets you may take in 24 hours.
If this medication is used too often, your body may develop a tolerance to it, and it may not work as well. If you need to treat more than 4 migraines each month, call your doctor and talk about it with them.
Talk with your doctor to make sure your headaches are caused by a migraine. Sumatriptan should not be used to treat headaches that are not migraine.
Warnings & Cautions
- If you have an existing heart condition, or if you have been told that you have heart disease, your doctor may have you take your first dose of sumatriptan while in the doctor’s office. They will monitor you for a possible increase in blood pressure or chest pain.
- Do not take sumatriptan if you have taken a similar migraine medication within the last 24 hours. If you are unsure if you should take your dose, call your pharmacist or doctor.
- Sumatriptan is usually not prescribed for use in the elderly due to the increased risk of high blood pressure.
- This medication may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision. Do not drive or do any activity that requires focus and attention until you are sure you can do them safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking sumatriptan.
- Infants born to mothers who are taking sumatriptan may be at risk. This medication should only be used during pregnancy when the benefit to the mother is greater than the risk to the unborn baby. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if sumatriptan is safe for you to take.
- Sumatriptan may rarely cause a condition called Serotonin Syndrome. This causes a fast increase in blood pressure and possibly other symptoms including restlessness, severe dizziness, loss of coordination and twitching muscles. This risk is increased when sumatriptan is taken with some specific other medications, especially a type of medication called a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor. Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any heart disease, decreased blood flow in the brain, history of a stroke, high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease, or any blood circulation problems.
- While taking sumatriptan, you may feel some flushing, weakness, nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness or dizziness. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any numbness or tingling, or tightness in the chest, jaw or neck area.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.