PLANO MIGRAINE DOCTOR
The Migraine Institute in Plano, Texas administers triptans to help manage migraine pain. Call us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What are Triptans?
Triptans are a class of medicines used to relieve migraine attack and cluster headache symptoms. They include almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan are usually used when standard painkillers and NSAIDs are not effective. The different kinds of triptans come in various different brand names and different administration forms. Triptans should be taken as a patient starts to feel a migraine headache develop, and NOT before that happens, as they may be less effective if taken too early in a migraine attack.
The cause of migraines is unclear, but the most common theory is that blood vessels in parts of the brain become narrower and go into spasm, and afterwards dilate causing a heachache. It is also theorized that chemicals in the brain increase in activity and parts of the brain may then send out confusing signals which cause the painful symptoms. 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT), also known as serotonin, is a chemical found in the brain, and it works by attaching to certain sites or receptors on various cells in the body. Once attached, it creates a set of reactions within the cells, including causing blood vessels to narrow and thus, causing migraine and headache symptoms. Triptans, or 5HT1 agonists, target the same receptors as 5HT in order to counteract the effects of 5HT and to relieve migraines by binding to 5HT receptors in the brain, which are located on blood vessels. When blood vessels are inflamed due to a migraine, the presence of triptans can narrow the blood vessel, taking the pressure of the blood vessels off of nearby tissue and ridding the pain. Triptans are meant to be used during a migraine attack, and not to stop one from coming on, and a patient should wait until they feel mild discomfort rather than taking the triptan when they feel that a migraine may be developing.
Triptans differ from ergotamines in that they do not offer as many side effects and do not cause headaches due to their overuse as often as ergotamines. They can be administered through an injection, a nasal spray or a tablet. There are multiple types of triptans, and a type of triptan that works well on one patient may not on others. There is also no best kind of triptan that suits everyone, although all triptans would probably work well with most migraine sufferers. The side-effects vary between the different types, so if the first triptan does not work well or causes bothersome side-effects, it is worth trying a different type. In some people, finding the right triptan may mean trying a few different ones. The British Association for the Study of Headache (BASH) recommends that you try a triptan for three separate migraine attacks before deciding if a change to a different one is needed.
As previously discussed, triptans should be taken as soon as the patient begins to feel a slight headache developing, but not before this. This is the most effective way triptans have been found to be taken, and they are designed to work rapidly and within an hour. After the first dose has been taken:
If the triptan worked to relieve the migraine headache, but the headache returned later, the dose can be repeated after 2-4 hours. But note that each triptan has a maximum daily dose that should not be exceeded.
If the triptan did not work, a further dose is unlikely to work to relieve the symptoms and it is not recommended for a second dose to be taken.
Risks & Other Factors
With any medication, there are risks. With triptans, a medication-induced headache is possible. This occurs when painkillers are taken too often for tension-type headaches and the withdrawal symptoms worsen the condition. There are few cases of side effects but some patients do experience drowsiness, nausea, dizziness and dry mouth.