Highlights for sumatriptan
- Sumatriptan oral tablets are available as both generic and brand-name drugs. Brand name: Imitrex.
- Sumatriptan also comes in a nasal spray, an injectable solution, or a nasal powder.
- Sumatriptan oral tablet is used to treat migraine headaches. It's used when headache symptoms first start. It's not used to prevent headaches.
Heart attack: This drug can cause serious heart problems such as heart attack, angina (chest pain), or cardiac arrest. If you're at risk for heart disease, your doctor may have you take your first dose in their office so they can monitor you.
Arrhythmias: This drug may cause your heart rhythm to change, which can be dangerous. If you feel changes in the way your heart beats, stop taking this drug and call your doctor right away.
Chest, throat, neck, or jaw pain: This drug can cause tightness, pain, or pressure in your chest, throat, neck, or jaw. In general, this feeling can be a symptom of heart attack, but it may not be when you're taking this drug. If you have this symptom, call your doctor.
Brain hemorrhage or stroke: Severe bleeding in the brain (brain hemorrhage) or stroke can occur if you take this drug. It's not clear if sumatriptan is a direct cause of these effects.
What is sumatriptan?
Sumatriptan oral tablet is a prescription drug that's available as the brand-name drug Imitrex. It's also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.
Sumatriptan also comes in a nasal spray, an injectable solution, or a nasal powder.
Why it's used
Sumatriptan is used to treat migraine headaches. Sumatriptan may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.
How it works
Sumatriptan belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin-1 receptor agonists. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.
A migraine causes the blood vessels in the brain to expand. It also causes a release of chemicals in the brain that can cause inflammation (swelling and irritation). Sumatriptan works by helping to bring your blood vessels back to their normal size. It also helps prevent your body's release of these chemicals that cause inflammation.
Sumatriptan side effects
Sumatriptan oral tablet may cause drowsiness. It may also cause other side effects.
More common side effects
The more common side effects that can occur with use of sumatriptan tablets include:
- feeling warm or cold
- tingling or prickling sensations in your skin
- pressure or pain in your chest, neck, jaw, or throat
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they're more severe or don't go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you're having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- Heart attack. Symptoms can include:
- chest pain that spreads to your shoulder or arm
- excessive sweating
- shortness of breath
- Other heart problems. Symptoms can include:
- severe chest pain
- fast heart rate
- irregular heart beat
- palpitations (feeling like your heart is skipping beats)
- Abnormal feelings in your chest (not related to your heart), throat, neck, or jaw. Symptoms can include:
- Vision problems. Symptoms can include:
- blurred vision
- loss of vision (may be temporary or permanent)
- Stroke or brain hemorrhage. Symptoms can include:
- face drooping
- trouble speaking
- numbness or weakness on one side of your body
- loss of balance
- Changes in mental health. Symptoms can include:
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real)
- thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
- Digestive tract problems. Symptoms can include:
- pain in your abdomen (stomach area)
- bloody diarrhea
- nausea and vomiting
- Serotonin syndrome. Symptoms can include:
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real)
- fast heart rate
- big pupils (dark centers of your eyes)
- rigid muscles
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
Sumatriptan may interact with other medications
Sumatriptan oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.
To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you're taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you're taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Drugs you should not use with sumatriptan
Do not take these drugs with sumatriptan. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in the body. Examples of these drugs include:
- Monoamine oxidase-A inhibitors (MAOIs), such as phenelzine, isocarboxazid, or tranylcypromine. Taking these drugs with sumatriptan can cause a severe condition called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms can include agitation, sweating, fast heartbeat, or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real). They can also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of balance.
- Ergot-containing drugs, such as dihydroergotamine or methysergide. Taking these drugs with sumatriptan raises your risk of certain side effects, such as tightness or pressure in your chest. Don't take these medications if you've taken sumatriptan in the last 24 hours.
- Other serotonin-1 receptor agonists, such as almotriptan or zolmitriptan. Taking these drugs with sumatriptan raises your risk of certain side effects, such as tightness or pressure in your chest. Don't take these medications if you've taken sumatriptan in the last 24 hours.
Interactions that increase your risk of side effects
Side effects from sumatriptan: Taking sumatriptan with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from sumatriptan. Examples of these drugs include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline. You're at higher risk of developing a serious condition called serotonin syndrome if you take these drugs. Symptoms can include agitation, sweating, fast heartbeat, or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real). They can also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of balance.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors used to treat depression, such as sertraline or fluoxetine. You're at higher risk of developing a serious condition called serotonin syndrome if you take these drugs. Symptoms can include agitation, sweating, fast heartbeat, or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real). They can also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of balance.
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as venlafaxine or duloxetine. You're at higher risk of developing a serious condition called serotonin syndrome if you take these drugs. Symptoms can include agitation, sweating, fast heartbeat, or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't real). They can also include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of balance.
- Medications used to control headache pain, such as dihydroergotamine, codeine, or hydrocodone. Using too many medications to help control your headache symptoms may make your headache worse. Talk with your doctor about which medications to take to help manage your headache symptoms.
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Sumatriptan oral tablet comes with several warnings
Sumatriptan can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
- swelling of the tongue, mouth, or throat
- trouble breathing
If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
Don't take this drug again if you've ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).
Warnings for people with certain health conditions
For people with heart conditions: Sumatriptan may cause serious problems with your heart. Tell your doctor if you've had a heart attack before. Also tell them if you have any other heart condition, such as coronary artery disease (CAD) or angina (chest pain). If you have any of these conditions, you should not use this drug. Your doctor will find other options to treat your symptoms of migraine. If you have certain risk factors for CAD, your doctor will give you tests to see if you have CAD. If you don't, your doctor may prescribe this drug, but they may have you take the first dose in their office.
For people with heart rhythm disorders: Sumatriptan may cause changes in your heart rhythm. Tell your doctor if you have any heart rhythm disorders. If you have certain types of heart rhythm disorders, you should not use this drug.
For people with a previous stroke or mini-stroke: This drug may cause severe bleeding in the brain (brain hemorrhage) or stroke. If you've ever had any form of stroke in the past, you should not use this drug.
For people with problems with circulation: Sumatriptan may cause or worsen symptoms of a condition called peripheral vascular disease. If you have this condition, you should not use this drug. Your doctor will find other options to treat your symptoms of migraine.
For people with serious bowel disorders: Sumatriptan may cause or worsen symptoms of a condition called ischemic bowel disease. If you have this condition, talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.
For people with serious liver disease: You should not use sumatriptan. Your doctor will find other options to treat your symptoms of migraine.
For people with seizures: Sumatriptan may cause seizures. If you've had seizures in the past, talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.
Warnings for other groups
For pregnant women: Research in animals has shown negative effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug. However, studies done in humans have not shown negative effects to the fetus.
Talk to your doctor if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this drug.
For women who are breastfeeding: Sumatriptan may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. You should not breastfeed your child for at least 12 hours after taking sumatriptan. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child.
For children: It has not been confirmed that sumatriptan is safe and effective for use in children. Do not use in people younger than 18 years.
How to take sumatriptan
This dosage information is for sumatriptan oral tablet. All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:
- your age
- the condition being treated
- how severe your condition is
- other medical conditions you have
- how you react to the first dose
Forms and strengths
- Form: Oral tablet
- Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
- Form: Oral tablet
- Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Dosage for migraine headache
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
- Typical starting dosage: One tablet (25 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg) taken when migraine symptoms appear.
- Dosage increases: If you don't get enough relief within 2 hours of the first dose, you can take a second dose at least 2 hours after the first dose.
- Maximum dosage: Do not take more than 200 mg within a 24-hour period.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)
It has not been confirmed that sumatriptan is safe and effective for use in children. Do not use in people younger than 18 years.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)
The kidneys, liver, and heart of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.
Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body. Before prescribing sumatriptan, your doctor should also evaluate the condition of your heart if you have certain risks for heart disease.
If you have mild or moderate liver disease, you should not take more than 50 mg of sumatriptan in a single dose. If you have severe liver disease, you should not use sumatriptan at all.
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Take as directed
Sumatriptan oral tablet is used for short-term treatment. It comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.
If you don't take the drug at all: Your symptoms of migraine may not improve.
If you take too much: You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:
- paralysis of one limb, one side of the body, or the whole body
- swelling and redness of the arms and legs
- trouble breathing
- loss of balance
If you think you've taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
How to tell if the drug is working: Your symptoms of migraine should get better. If your symptoms do not get better at all after taking the drug, talk to your doctor before taking any more of the medication.
Important considerations for taking sumatriptan
Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes sumatriptan oral tablet for you.
- You can take sumatriptan tablets with or without food.
- Do not cut or crush the tablet.
- Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
Store sumatriptan tablets between 36°F and 86°F (2°C and 30°C).
- Keep this drug away from light.
- Don't store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.
A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.
When traveling with your medication:
- Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
- Don't worry about airport x-ray machines. They can't hurt your medication.
- You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
- Don't put this medication in your car's glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.
Your doctor will monitor your health during your treatment with sumatriptan. They may check your:
- blood pressure
- heart rate and rhythm
- kidney function
- liver function
You may need to have some blood tests done to be sure your kidneys and liver are working well.
You may need to have blood tests during your treatment with sumatriptan. The cost of these tests will depend on your insurance coverage.
Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.
Are there any alternatives?
There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.