Triptans in Migraine

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


A migraine is a condition that causes a person to have headaches. The headaches can be very severe and last for several days. A migraine is a severe, disabling headache that can affect one or both sides of the head, with pain typically lasting for hours or days.

A migraine occurs when the electrical signals between nerve cells in your brain become scrambled, causing an intense throbbing pain.

Migraine can be triggered by a variety of things, including stress and certain foods (like chocolate). While there’s no known cause for migraines, there are treatments that can help relieve the pain and prevent them from happening again.

Migraines are more common in women than in men (about 75% vs. 25%).

Triptans are medications that relieve the pain from migraines and other types of headaches. They are used to treat moderate to severe migraines that last longer than 4 hours. Triptans work by blocking pain signals from reaching your nerve endings.

What are Triptans?

Triptans are a type of migraine medication that can be used to treat headaches. They work by blocking certain pathways in the brain that are associated with the feeling of pain.

They are also used to treat cluster headaches and other types of headaches. Triptans are a class of medication used to treat migraine headaches. They work by blocking serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pain.

Triptans are effective at preventing or treating attacks of migraine headaches when taken regularly for at least three months.

The most commonly prescribed triptans are sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), and almotriptan (Axert). Triptans may cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and dry mouth.

How does Triptan Work?

Triptans are medications that are used to treat migraine headaches. They work by stopping the release of serotonin, a chemical in the brain.

Thus, there is an increase in the quantity of serotonin in the brain. It acts as a pleasure hormone and acts on the blood vessels to constrict them.

Triptans are prescribed for

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Cluster Headaches
  • Other chronic headaches that occur in one area of the head and cause severe pain on a consistent basis.

Triptans in Various Forms

Triptans are a class of drugs that are used as relievers and preventers too.

Triptans are available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, nasal sprays, injections, and liquids.

They can be taken as a single dose or in combination with other medications. Some people take triptans at the first sign of a headache; others prefer to wait until their symptoms become severe before seeking treatment.


This is the most common drug that is used to treat and prevent migraines.

Imigran is a tablet form of sumatriptan that is used to treat migraines that come on very quickly and last more than 4 hours.

Maxalt is another tablet form of sumatriptan, which is a type of triptan. It is used when you have a migraine with an aura (a visual disturbance) or nausea and vomiting.

Zomig is an injection form of sumatriptan, which is a type of triptan. It is used when you have migraine attacks with no aura, nausea, or vomiting.

Triptan Side Effects

Triptans are a class of medications that can be used to treat migraine headaches. They work by blocking serotonin receptors in the brain, which reduces pain and other symptoms of a migraine.

In general, triptans can have side effects ranging from mild to severe. Side effects may include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • There are also some rare but serious side effects of triptans, including:
  • Severe allergic reactions to the drug or its ingredients (such as anaphylaxis)

Heart attack, heart rhythm disturbances, and blood vessel problems can sometimes lead to death.

Triptan’s Drug Interactions

As triptans interact with many other drugs, it’s important to check with your doctor before taking any new medication. Some common interactions include

  • Ergot derivatives (e.g., ergotamine)
  • Antacids (e.g., antacids containing magnesium)
  • Antibiotics (e.g., tetracyclines)
  • Blood thinners (eg, warfarin)
  • Heart medications (e.g., digoxin)
  • Anti-depressants (e.g, SSRIs and MAOI)
  • Antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine)

Triptan Type

  • Sumatriptan (Imitrex)
  • Rizatriptan (Maxalt)
  • Almotriptan (Axert)
  • Frovatriptan (Frov)
  • Eletriptan (Relpax)

Triptan Doses

Triptans vary in strength. Some have only been tested in short-term use and are intended for immediate relief of symptoms, while others can be given to patients over an extended period of time and may be considered better suited for long-term treatment.

The physician recommends taking triptan at the prodromal phase or at the beginning of the headache.


  • 25, 50, or 100 mg
  • nasal spray, 5–20 mg.
  • 1-6 mg by injection



  • 1.25-2.5 mg oral tablets


  • 5-10 mg oral tablets

To Whom should I not Prescribe Triptans?

Some patients are at a higher risk of experiencing side effects from triptans. You should avoid triptans if you have:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease or heart rhythm problems
  •  Anxiety or depression
  •  Seizures or epilepsy
  •  High cholesterol
  •  Age 65 years or older

Triptans are generally safe and effective, but they do have some side effects. If you’re considering taking a triptan, it’s important to talk with your doctor about whether or not it’s right for you.

Other Migraine Medications

Triptans are the most effective way to treat migraines.

They are an effective treatment for people who have chronic migraines and can help prevent future migraines in many people who experience frequent migraines.

However, as with any medication, there are some patients who should not take triptans.

For those below, medications can be prescribed after being discussed with the doctor.

Pain Relievers

  • NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Naproxen)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Dihydroergotamine
  •  Anti-emetic drugs

As migraine is a chronic headache, though opioids are effective in pain management, there is a risk of dependency.

Preventive Medicine for Migraine

These will reduce the frequency of migraines.

  • Antidepressants (amitriptyline, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and others)
  • Anticonvulsants (Topiramate, levetiracetam, pregabalin)
  • Beta-blockers (atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol, others) (atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol, others)
  • Calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nimodipine, verapamil)
  • CGRP antagonist (erenumab, fremanezumab)
  • Botox injections

Depending on the severity of the migraine, the physician will change the medications.


TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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