What is Sumatriptan and what is it used for?
Sumatriptan is an antimigraine treatment for migraine attacks with or without an aura (warning signs such as visual disturbances, waves, light flashes, etc).
How does it work?
The active ingredient is sumatriptan succinate, a 5HT-receptor agonist or ‘triptan’. Migraines are thought to be a result of dilated blood vessels in the brain and Sumatriptan counteracts this by narrowing the vessels. This provides relief from the pain and other symptoms associated with migraines including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
What is the difference between Sumatriptan and Imigran?
Imigran is a brand of medication which contains the active ingredient sumatriptan. Sumatriptan belongs to the family of anti-migraine medications called ‘triptans’. During a migraine, blood vessels in the brain dilate, and triptans work by temporarily reversing this dilation.
Imigran and sumatriptan are medically equivalent and interchangeable, as they contain the same active ingredient in the same strength. They work the same way in the body, the difference is that Imigran is the branded version of the medication and therefore costs more than the generic version sumatriptan. See a detailed comparison here.
How do I take Sumatriptan?
The migraine tablets can be taken with or without food and should be swallowed whole with water. The sooner you take the medicine once your headache starts, the more effective. The recommended dose for adults is 50mg, although some patients may need a higher dose of 100mg. Sumatriptan is not recommended for children or adolescents.
If the treatment is somewhat ineffective or your headache returns, you may take another capsule at least 2 hours after you have taken the first. If Sumatriptan does not alleviate the pain, do not take another pill for the same attack. Sumatriptan should not be taken to prevent a migraine attack as it is only intended to treat one.
How long does it take to work?
The migraine relief peaks about 45 minutes after a dose of Sumatriptan.
How long does it last?
The medication lasts about 2 hours.
Can I take Sumatriptan?
If you suffer from headaches that are not relieved with painkillers including paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen, you can start taking Sumatriptan at 50mg. Sumatriptan is recommended if you get less than 10 migraine episodes in a month.
Can I take painkillers with Sumatriptan?
If the first dose of Sumatriptan did not work, you can take a painkiller such as paracetamol, aspirin or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen.
The recommended dosage is 1 tablet, which may be repeated after 2 hours if required, up to a maximum of 2 tablets in 24 hours.
What are the side effects of Sumatriptan?
Like all medications, Sumatriptan can have some side effects, but not everyone gets them. The main side effects include:
However, many of these may also be caused by the migraine itself.
Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.