Active Ingredients

Sumatriptan – Effect, Application & Risks


The active substance sumatriptan is contained in medications that are used to treat acute migraine attacks or cluster headaches . On the one hand, the remedy constricts the blood vessels in migraines, on the other hand it inhibits the transmission of pain.

What is sumatriptan?

The active substance sumatriptan is contained in medications that are used to treat acute migraine attacks or cluster headaches.

Sumatriptan is assigned to the drug group of triptans . It is used to combat migraine attacks with or without an aura and to treat cluster headaches. The active ingredient can be administered in the form of tablets, suppositories , nasal spray or injections . As an injection solution, the remedy is primarily suitable for cluster headaches. Suppositories are available for patients who experience nausea and vomiting during an attack .

Both strict guidelines on the maximum daily dose and the dosing interval must be observed when treating sumatriptan. It is recommended that therapy with sumatriptan be carried out under the supervision of a doctor. However, the drug can also be purchased at the pharmacy without a prescription. Since 2013, the drug has been partially released from the prescription requirement. This legal change allows patients to provide themselves with the desired migraine preparation.

Pharmacological action

The principle of action of sumatriptan is based both on the inhibition of neurogenic inflammation and on the constriction of the vessels, which have been dilated by the migraine itself. The signs of most migraine headaches result from a temporary swelling of the blood vessels. Preparations containing sumatriptan only relieve the symptoms caused by migraines or cluster headaches. Other types of pain are not affected.

In the body, sumatriptan travels through the bloodstream to the brain . There it activates a specific receptor called the 5-HT1 receptor. As a result, the vessels are narrowed by the stimulation. In addition, the increased release of inflammatory messengers by nerve cells is prevented.

The effectiveness of sumatriptans has been scientifically proven. Around 50 to 70% of patients experience a significant improvement in symptoms during a migraine attack. Complete disappearance can often be achieved. Sumatriptan’s principle of action does not help headaches that are not caused by migraines. Efficacy is clearly limited to migraine and cluster headaches. A recurrence of the headache within 48 hours is possible.

Medical Application & Use

Preparations containing sumatriptan should be used at the first sign of a migraine. However, it is not a prophylactic that can be taken preventively.

When ingested, patients can take a single dose of 100mg up to twice a day. It is important to keep a time interval of four hours. When injected, Sumatriptan starts working within 15 minutes. Patients experience relief of symptoms after taking a tablet after about 30 minutes.

Individuals should be under medical supervision when reinitiated on sumatriptan. At the beginning of treatment, the normal dose is 50 mg. A maximum dose of 300mg for tablets and 12mg for injections must not be exceeded within 24 hours. In principle, a maximum of six migraine attacks can be treated with sumatriptan per month.

In children and adolescents under 18 years of age, other medicines should be used for treatment. Older people over the age of 65 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also refrain from using it. It should also be noted that you may experience slight drowsiness during treatment with sumatriptan. As a result, the ability to drive and use machines may be impaired.

Risks & side effects

Taking the drug causes nausea and vomiting in about 14% of patients. Around 5-10% of users also complain of feelings of tiredness , heat or dizziness . The occurrence of sensory disturbances up to paresthesia and hypesthesia is also possible. Elevated blood pressure , shortness of breath , pain or tightness in the chest are also frequently observed. Drowsiness or feelings of heaviness rarely occur . According to the latest findings, when taking Sumatriptan before angina pectoris symptomswarned, some of which can last up to 12 hours.

In some cases, therapy with the active substance sumatriptan must not be carried out. This applies to patients with coronary heart disease , after a heart attack or stroke , with uncontrolled high blood pressure and with Raynaud’s syndrome . Particular caution is required in patients suffering from impaired liver and kidney function .

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.