Sumatriptan is a medicine used to treat migraines. Sumatriptan helps relieve symptoms such as headache, pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Sumatriptan tablets are prescribed when painkillers fail to relieve migraine symptoms.
Sumatriptan is a type of medicine known as a triptan or serotonin receptor agonist. When you have a migraine, your blood vessels become wider. By using sumatriptan to stimulate the release of serotonin, this narrows your blood vessels to help relieve your migraine. Sumatriptan also reduces pain signals in the brain. However, sumatriptan cannot be taken to prevent migraines.
Sumatriptan normally works within 30 minutes after you take your first tablet. If you don’t feel better after two hours, then you can take a second tablet. The effects of sumatriptan can last around 24 hours so do not take more than two doses in 24 hours. If sumatriptan is not working after two doses, you should contact your doctor for further advice.
Sumatriptan is effective for upto 24 hours. If you do not feel your migraine is getting better after two doses of sumatriptan in 24 hours, then speak to your doctor for advice.
1 tablet, taken at the onset of a migraine attack
|Type of medicine||
Block production of certain compounds believed to contribute to migraine pain
6, 12, 18 or 24 tablets
From £1.54 per tablet
Can include tingling, feelings of warmth or cold, nausea and vomiting
The active ingredient in sumatriptan tablets is sumatriptan.
The inactive ingredients in sumatriptan are lactose monohydrate, hypromellose, microcrystalline cellulose, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, and titanium dioxide (E171). The 50 mg film-coated tablets also include triacetin and red iron oxide (E172).
Please Note: Different manufacturers of generic sumatriptan could use different inactive ingredients in their drugs than those listed above. Please check the patient information leaflet provided for full details.
Other than the small amount of lactose present in the sumatriptan, which is safe for people with lactose intolerance, there are no other ingredients that are known to cause serious allergic reactions in users. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include rash/hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of the face. A serious allergic reaction requires emergency medical attention so please visit your local emergency department as soon as possible.
Always use sumatriptan as your doctor or pharmacist tells you to. Swallow one sumatriptan tablet whole with a glass of water as soon as you feel a migraine starting. Do not crush or chew sumatriptan tablets. If your first dose does not relieve your migraine symptoms completely, then you can take a second dose two hours later. You should not take more than two doses in 24 hours. If you don’t feel better after two doses, contact your doctor for advice.
Your dose of sumatriptan will be decided by a doctor depending on how bad your migraines are and how well you have responded to treatments in the past. For adults aged 18 to 65 years old, you take one 50 mg sumatriptan tablet as soon as you feel a migraine starting. You may need to take a higher dose if your migraines do not improve. Sumatriptan isn’t normally recommended for adults over 65 years old.
Sumatriptan can cause side effects in some patients. If you have an allergic reaction to sumatriptan, stop taking it immediately and seek emergency medical help. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: a skin rash such as red spots or hives, swelling of the eyelids, face or lips, sudden wheezing, tightness of the chest or difficulty breathing.
Common side effects, affecting up to 1 in 10 people, include:
These symptoms are generally temporary and can occur in any part of the body.
The following side effects can happen, but it is unknown how common they are:
You should NOT take sumatriptan if:
Before using sumatriptan, tell your doctor if:
Before taking sumatriptan, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including those purchased over the counter at a pharmacy without a prescription. You need to be aware of these drug interactions:
Migraines may cause changes in vision, dizziness and sleepiness. When you take sumatriptan to relieve a migraine, you may also feel drowsy or sleepy. If you experience these symptoms or side effects, do not drive or operate heavy machinery.
If you are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, speak to a doctor before using sumatriptan.
You should not drink alcohol when you take sumatriptan, as this can increase the likelihood of side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and flushing. Alcohol can also make your migraine feel worse.
You can take sumatriptan with over the counter painkillers or headache treatments such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the symptoms of your migraine. Check with a pharmacist first to make sure the treatments are suitable for you.
You can take other migraine treatments with sumatriptan. This includes painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin - but make sure to check on their suitability with your doctor or pharmacist first. However, you should not take sumatriptan within 24 hours of ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, methysergide, or any other triptan-containing migraine treatment, including zolmitriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan, rizatriptan, or naratriptan.
An alternative to sumatriptan tablets is a nasal spray under the brand name Imigran. Other triptans are also an option, including frovatriptan and naratriptan. If you experience nausea with your migraines, you can get an antiemetic prescribed. Combination medicines, which contain a painkiller and an antiemetic, can be purchased over the counter with a pharmacist’s advice. Painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can be used in combination with triptans to relieve the headache of migraines.
Imigran nasal spray and sumatriptan tablets contain the same active ingredient, sumatriptan, and work in the same way to help relieve the symptoms of your migraine. You can take either medicine as soon as you feel the symptoms of a migraine starting. They both get to work within 30 minutes and they have similar effectiveness. Imigran nasal spray is a good alternative for people who struggle to swallow tablets and you may experience fewer side effects.
Sumatriptan is used to treat and relieve the symptoms of migraines as they occur. Sumatriptan cannot prevent migraines from happening and it is not a cure for migraines.
Sumatriptan is not a painkiller, but it does help relieve pain. Therefore, you can take painkillers with sumatriptan if you have severe pain. Speak to a doctor or pharmacist for advice on which painkiller is best for you.
The symptoms of ocular migraines, also known as retinal migraines, include visual blind spots, bright or flashing lights, temporary vision loss and light sensitivity. If you get a headache in addition to these symptoms, sumatriptan can help provide relief. Sumatriptan can also help relieve symptoms of a migraine without headaches.
You should only use sumatriptan when you have a migraine. You can use sumatriptan long term if advised by your doctor. However, you should not use sumatriptan to prevent migraines from happening.
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