Stop migraines with Maxalt (rizatriptan)

Maxalt contains a medicine called rizatriptan, which is used to treat migraines and reduce headache pain. It belongs to a group of medicines called selective serotonin 5-HT receptor agonists which are also known as triptans.

Our prices

Medicine Strength Quantity Price Stock
Maxalt10mg3 tablets£26.09In Stock
Maxalt Melt10mg3 tablets£26.09In Stock
Maxalt10mg6 tablet£40.49In Stock
Maxalt Melt10mg6 tablets£40.49In Stock
Maxalt10mg9 tablets£58.49In Stock
Maxalt Melt10mg9 tablets£58.49In Stock
Maxalt10mg12 tablets£76.49In Stock
Maxalt Melt10mg12 tablets£76.49In Stock
Prices exclude a prescription fee. This treatment requires a quick online consultation,
which a doctor will review to determine if a prescription is appropriate.

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Virginia Chachati

Reviewed by Virginia Chachati MPharm
(2013, University College London)
GPhC Registration number: 2087654

Information last reviewed 03/07/2021


What is Maxalt?

Maxalt contains rizatriptan, which is a medicine used to treat migraines and reduce headache pain. It belongs to a group of medicines called selective serotonin 5-HT receptor agonists which are commonly referred to as triptans.

How does Maxalt work?

Maxalt works by reducing the swelling of the blood vessels around the brain to stop migraines and headache pain.

Can Maxalt be used to prevent migraines?

Maxalt cannot be used to prevent a migraine. Maxalt should only be taken when you feel a migraine attack coming on.

What causes migraines?

It's thought that migraines are caused by abnormal activity in the brain that triggers nerve signals and blood vessels. There are many possible triggers which may cause a migraine including hormonal, environmental, emotional and food-based factors. These include: 

  • Stress 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Shock 
  • Tension 
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Menstruation 
  • Poor sleep 
  • Tiredness 
  • Shift work 
  • Routine disruption 
  • Bad posture 
  • Jet lag 
  • Low blood sugar 
  • Dehydration 
  • Caffeine 
  • Alcohol 
  • Missed or irregular meals 
  • Chocolate 
  • Citrus fruits 
  • A substance called tyramine found in cured meat, fish and cheeses 
  • Bright light 
  • Flickering screens 
  • Loud noises 
  • Strong smells 
  • Cigarette smoke 
  • Stuffy surroundings 
  • Certain medicines

 Not all of these triggers will affect everyone. Try keeping a migraine diary to help identify what your triggers might be.

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

The symptoms of a migraine usually include a headache, but some people can have a migraine without a headache. The symptoms of a migraine can include: 

  • An intense headache pain which can be on one or both sides of the head 
  • Throbbing pain or pulsing sensation 
  • Sensitivity to light or sound 
  • Visual disturbances 
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Poor concentration 
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Pins and needles 
  • Difficulty speaking
  • There are two main types of migraine: migraine without aura and migraine with aura. A migraine with aura is where you experience visual disturbances. These can include: 
  • Flashing lights 
  • Blind spots 
  • Zig zag patterns 
  • Seeing stars or spots 

 An aura is not usually anything to worry about and the visual disturbances don't normally last long.

What is the difference between a migraine and a headache?

A migraine feels like an intense headache. It usually causes nausea, and a sensitivity to light, sound or smells. The pain may be on one side of the head and cause a throbbing or pulsing sensation. A headache will not produce any additional symptoms and can usually be cleared up with painkillers.

Can I use Maxalt for normal headaches?

Maxalt cannot be used for a normal or regular headache, it's only suitable for treating migraines and needs to be prescribed by a doctor.


Active ingredients

The active ingredient in Maxalt is Rizatriptan.

Inactive ingredients

The other ingredients in Maxalt are lactose monohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose (E460a), starch, pregelatinised; iron oxide red (E172) and magnesium stearate (E572).

Which ingredients can cause an allergic reaction?

This drug is the branded version of Rizatriptan which is the main active ingredient of Maxalt. A serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.


How to take Maxalt?

A Maxalt tablet or Maxalt melt should be taken as soon as you feel a migraine attack starting. Swallow one Maxalt tablet whole with a drink of water or allow one Maxalt melt oral lyophilisate to dissolve on your tongue (no water required). If your migraine is still there after 2 hours then you can take another Maxalt tablet or Maxalt melt. Do not take more than 2 tablets of Maxalt or 2 Maxalt melt oral lyophilisates within 24 hours.

What should I do if I forget to take Maxalt?

If you forget to take Maxalt, you can take it at any time during a migraine attack. Do not take Maxalt to prevent a migraine.

What should I do if I take too much Maxalt?

If you take too much Maxalt seek immediate medical attention. Take the pack of Maxalt with you so that the doctor can see what you have taken.

Side Effects

Common side effects of Maxalt may include: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Sleepiness 
  • Tiredness 
  • Paraesthesia 
  • Headache 
  • Hypoaesthesia 
  • Decreased alertness 
  • Insomnia 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Flushing 
  • Throat discomfort 
  • Nausea 
  • Indigestion 
  • Heaviness in the body 
  • Abdominal or chest pain 

 Uncommon side effects of Maxalt may include: 

  • Bad taste in the mouth 
  • Unsteadiness 
  • Vertigo 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Tremor 
  • Fainting 
  • Confusion 
  • Nervousness 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Rash 
  • Hives 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Muscle tightness or weakness 
  • Arrhythmia 
  • Fast heartbeat 

Rare side effects of Maxalt can include: 

  • Wheezing 
  • Hypersensitivity 
  • Severe allergic reaction 
  • Stoke 
  • Slowed heartbeat 
  • Heart attack 
  • Serotonin syndrome 
  • Shedding of skin (possibly with a fever) 
  • Seizure 
  • Spasm of blood vessels 
  • Spasm of colon


Do not take Maxalt if: 

  • You are allergic to rizatriptan or any of the other ingredients 
  • You have uncontrolled high blood pressure 
  • You have ever had heart problems 
  • You have severe liver or kidney problems 
  • You have ever had a stroke 
  • You have peripheral vascular disease 
  • You are taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors 
  • You are taking any other migraine medicines

 Tell your doctor before taking Maxalt if: 

  • You have high blood pressure or any other heart disease risk factors 
  • You have kidney or liver problems 
  • You have bundle branch block 
  • You have any allergies 
  • Your headache is accompanied by dizziness, difficulty walking, lack of coordination or weakness in the legs and arms 
  • You are using St. John's wort 
  • You have ever experienced an allergic reaction to a similar medicine
  • You are taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • You have chest pain or tightness

Drug interactions

Do not use Maxalt if you are taking: 

  • another type of triptan
  • monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
  • ergotamine or dihydroergotamine for migraines  
  • methysergide to prevent migraines 
  • propranolol 
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Maxalt and alcohol

Drinking alcohol while using Maxalt can increase the risk of side effects and cause dehydration. It's not recommended to drink alcohol while you have a migraine as it can make your symptoms worse.

Maxalt and pregnancy

Talk to your doctor for advice before using Maxalt during pregnancy or if you are planning a pregnancy.

Can I drive while taking Maxalt?

You should avoid driving after taking Maxalt as it may make you feel dizzy or tired.

Treatment Options

Alternatives to Maxalt

The first line of treatment for a migraine is usually painkillers such as paracetamol or aspirin. If this doesn't work, then talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You may need to try a different type of triptan such as sumatriptan. Antiemetics, such as Buccastem, can also be given to ease nausea and vomiting.

How to cope with migraines?

During a migraine attack, the best thing to do is to lie down and rest in a quiet dark room. Take your Maxalt, or other migraine medicine, as soon as possible to allow it time to work and ease the headache pain. 

Identifying possible factors which may be triggering your migraines can help you avoid them in the future. Recording the details of your migraine; such as the time, place, external factors and any food or drink you had.

Speak to a doctor if your migraine symptoms do not get better with migraine treatment or if your migraines start happening more often.

How to prevent migraines?

Preventing migraines may not always be possible, but finding out what your triggers are can help you avoid them. Keeping a migraine diary can help you identify migraine triggers. Record when and where they occur, and any environmental factors present. Drinking plenty of water, eating regular meals and getting enough sleep will also help.

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