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Sumatriptan (oral/nasal)

Generic Name: sumatriptan (oral/nasal) (soo ma TRIP tan)
Brand Name: Imitrex, Imitrex Nasal, Onzetra Xsail

Medically reviewed on Feb 28, 2018

What is sumatriptan?

Sumatriptan is a headache medicine that narrows blood vessels around the brain. Sumatriptan also reduces substances in the body that can trigger headache pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and other migraine symptoms.

Sumatriptan is used to treat migraine headaches in adults. Sumatriptan will only treat a headache. sumatriptan will not prevent headaches or reduce the number of attacks.

Sumatriptan should not be used to treat a common tension headache or a headache that causes loss of movement on one side of your body. Use this medicine only if your condition has been confirmed by a doctor as migraine headaches.

Sumatriptan may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not use this medicine if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart problems, certain heart rhythm disorders, a history of heart attack or stroke, or circulation problems that cause a lack of blood supply within the body.

Do not use this medicine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.

Do not use sumatriptan within 24 hours before or after using any other migraine headache medicine.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use sumatriptan if you are allergic to it, or if you have ever had:

  • heart problems, or a stroke (including "mini-stroke");

  • coronary artery disease, angina (chest pain), blood circulation problems, lack of blood supply to the heart;

  • circulation problems affecting your legs, arms, stomach, intestines, or kidneys;

  • a heart disorder called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome;

  • uncontrolled high blood pressure;

  • severe liver disease; or

  • a headache that seems different from your usual migraine headaches.

Do not use sumatriptan if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;

  • high blood pressure, a heart rhythm disorder; or

  • risk factors for coronary artery disease (such as diabetes, menopause, smoking, being overweight, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol, having a family history of coronary artery disease, or being older than 40 and a man).

It is not known whether sumatriptan will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

Sumatriptan can pass into breast milk. Do not breast-feed within 12 hours after using sumatriptan. If you use a breast pump during this time, throw out any milk you collect. Do not feed it to your baby.

Sumatriptan is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I use sumatriptan?

Use sumatriptan as soon as you notice headache symptoms. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

You may receive your first dose in a hospital or clinic setting to quickly treat any serious side effects.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.

Take a sumatriptan tablet whole with a full glass of water. Do not split the tablet.

Do not take a sumatriptan nosepiece capsule by mouth. It is for use only in the nasal inhaler device provided with this medicine.

After using sumatriptan: If your headache does not completely go away, or goes away and comes back, use a second dose if it has been at least 2 hours since your first dose.

Never use more than your recommended dose. Overuse of migraine headache medicine can make headaches worse. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in treating your migraine attacks.

Do not take more than 200 milligrams of oral sumatriptan within 24 hours.

Do not use more than 40 milligrams of sumatriptan nasal spray or 44 milligrams of sumatriptan nosepiece capsules within 24 hours.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if you have more than 4 headaches in one month (30 days).

Store sumatriptan at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since sumatriptan is used when needed, it does not have a daily dosing schedule. Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after using sumatriptan.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include tremors, skin redness in your arms or legs, weakness, loss of coordination, breathing problems, blue-colored lips or fingernails, vision problems, or a seizure (convulsions).

What should I avoid while using sumatriptan?

Do not use sumatriptan within 24 hours before or after using another migraine headache medicine, including:

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how sumatriptan will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

Sumatriptan side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using sumatriptan and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • sudden and severe stomach pain and bloody diarrhea;

  • severe chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats;

  • a seizure (convulsions);

  • blood circulation problems in your legs or feet--cramps, tight or heavy feeling, numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, burning pain, cold feeling, color changes (pale or blue), hip pain;

  • heart attack symptoms--chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating;

  • high levels of serotonin in the body--agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, fainting;

  • increased blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, anxiety, nosebleed; or

  • signs of a stroke--sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance.

Common side effects may include:

  • pain or tight feeling in your chest, throat, or jaw;

  • pressure or heavy feeling in any part of your body;

  • numbness or tingling, feeling hot or cold;

  • dizziness, drowsiness, weakness;

  • unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth after using the nasal medicine;

  • pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in your nose or throat after using the nasal medicine; or

  • runny or stuffy nose after using the nasal medicine.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect sumatriptan?

Using sumatriptan while you are using certain other medicines can cause high levels of serotonin to build up in your body, a condition called "serotonin syndrome," which can be fatal. Tell your doctor if you also use:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect sumatriptan, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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