Expert Answer: Frequency of triptan use for migraine

Question: Is it dangerous to take Triptans several days in a row? I have been stuck in a migraine for days and have taken Triptan 2 days in a row. The 2nd day I barely got any relief. Today the migraine is still here and worse. I want to give it another try but not sure if I’ve had too much?

The biggest issue isn’t danger, but rather that it is unlikely to help so late in an attack. All triptans need to be taken early in an attack to work well. How early is early enough varies with individuals and may have something to do with how long you have suffered my migraines.

In a late attack, an anti-inflammatory medication might help. Sometimes intravenous medications are used to stop a late attack. Better speak to your doctor to see what direction to go.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (48)
  • Tammy Walters Tyree
    7 years ago

    All you folks with comments here need to check into Stimpath, a breakthrough treatment for chronic migraines! We are having it done for my husb. on 11/29 of this year. He will be getting his life back that has been monopolized by chronic, intractable migraines for the past 15 years. Ascendant Neurology in Dallas, TX is the contact point. Don’t wait.

  • Erica Olson Sommers
    8 years ago

    I have a lot to say about triptan use (as a 30 year migraineur) and the dangers/risks involved. I agree that if there is a Migraine God, s/he created the Triptans – it has saved my life for many years, and allowed me to actually live my life. On the other hand, over-use can have serious effects, besides possible heart-related health problems, but also the incidence of “rebounds”. I was up to having about 3-4 Migraines a week, and saying the quality of my life had been comprised is an understatment. My new neurologist has me on a radical treatment: At the moment, I have been off all Triptans (Imitrex & Zomig), as well as codeine/pain killers (vicodin and norco) for 8 weeks now. Also I am on a serious migraine-trigger elimination diet (we all know the list!) even though I resisted believing I had dietary triggers for all these years. It’s a radical approach, meaning you don’t figure out what your dietary trigger is, you just give them all up. The last 2 migraines WITHOUT Imitrex or Vicodin were horrific, grueling, but it seems to be working. Way less frequency & intensity. I miss some of the foods like Citrus fruit, onions, chocolate, and mostly my beloved coffee! If I can have a life back, I can handle it! Read the Book, Heal your Headache, by David Bucholz…some people bash it, but again, at this point, I committed to really taking a leap of faith.

  • Beth Foulkes Lowe
    8 years ago

    I have Intractable Migraine, and I take anywhere from 12 to 18 Relpax a month, under my doctor’s guidance. She’s a migraine specialist. Is she happy about this? No, but she and I have determined that, for right now, this is the only way I can get some relief and lead any semblance of a normal life. For the record, I have fairly low blood pressure, and I take Topamax, a calcium channel blocker (which lowers my blood pressure further), and the birth control pill as preventatives. They help, but not much.

  • Laurie Bain
    8 years ago

    I was in a migraine study for post traumatic migraines due to head injuries, and for three months I took 100 mg of Treximet daily. The side effects of tight throat and heart palpitations wore off within 10 days. My migraines were greatly improved with no MOH. I know the difference between MOH and migraine in myself. Fiornal, BC Powder, things like that will definitely cause me to have an MOH. Over the last year, I have scaled back to where I can get away with taking 1/4 of a treximet and it makes the migraine manageable, 1/2 will kick it out for 18 hours or more, a whole one brings back the side effects and makes me grumpy. I won’t take a whole one anymore. I can skip taking it up to two days a week without having any migraines which is miraculous. During the study, my heart and blood pressure remained normal. What the long term effects may be, I don’t know, but so far the only noticeable side effect is some dragginess. It’s possible that my migraines are getting more manageable on their own because of menopausal hormonal changes, but whatever it is, I’m grateful!

  • Ramona Panitzke
    8 years ago

    I take maxalt and repeat it in 2 hrs. often the headache comes back, and I have to repeat maxalt the next day, with enough motrin to choke a horse.

  • Ramona Panitzke
    8 years ago

    yeah, i started on imitrex and the migraine dr. changed it. i asked my pcp to try imitrex again. with it, i’d get relief within 2 hours.

  • Tammy Boczon Lancaster
    8 years ago

    I take generic Imitrex with Aleve. Same as Maxalt and inexpensive.

  • Ada Tsang
    8 years ago

    Maxalt always worked for me. Ever try Imitrex?

  • Ramona Panitzke
    8 years ago

    thanks. i left work barfing yesterday, but am feeling better now.

  • Michelle Sykes
    8 years ago

    Too bad you don’t live in California–or Amsterdam for that matter, LOL! So sorry you have been stricken by another migraine…:-(

  • Vicki Wells
    8 years ago

    Yes, I’ve learned the hard way you have to be careful taking what the doctors call “triptans” because you’ll get what my neurologist calls a “rebound” migraine which is WAY WAY worse than the “original” migraine ever was. I’m just curious about what Relpax is actually doing inside my head that prevents me from taking any more than 2 within a 24 hour period and no more than 2 within a week. What is that drug doing to the blood vessels, etc. that makes it “dangerous” to take more than 2 in a week’s time? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Barbara Black
    8 years ago

    That’s just not right! To get a worse migraine while taking meds for the migraine. Sorry, honey! Feel better soon.

  • Deb Jamerson
    8 years ago

    I cut mine in smaller pieces and only take what I need to get rid of headache. Usually half will do it but not always.

  • Angie Palmer
    8 years ago

    WOW. JUST LIKE COMMERCIALS ON TV. ONE OF THE SIDE EFFECTS IS CAUSING THE PROBLEM IT’S TRYING TO FIX. WHAT KINDA CRAP IS THAT?

  • Debbie Jones
    8 years ago

    I take Maxalt for my migraines and there are times when I have had to take it 2-3 days in a row. However, I have Frova for a back up. Usually by that 3rd day I know I need to take the Frova to kick it but you have to wait 24 hours before switching to another triptan. This may seem selfish but I have dealt with migraine pain for so many years what it is going to do to my heart is the last thing on my mind just get me out of this PAIN!

  • Terri Lannings Johnson
    8 years ago

    I use about 18 Imetrex a month. I worry about it hurting my heart or so.

  • Jenni Nash Dorsey
    8 years ago

    @Carolyn Doherty — Bless your heart. I know it’s horrible when you finally find something that works, then can’t get it anymore! (See my above post.) I tried Trexemet and also had the horrible side effects — we think my blood pressure dropped way low very rapidly, but we’ll never know because I was at a restaurant at the time and had to just sit there until the feeling passed — and as a result, the neuro won’t let me have the Imitrex shot because she said the two are too closely related chemically. I have talked her into letting me come into the office and have them administer it there so they can monitor my reaction though, so next time I have an un-abortable headache, I have to make my way to the office for what could be a very unpleasant experience. But it will be worth it if the shot works and I can have it available when I need relief!avai

  • Jenni Nash Dorsey
    8 years ago

    How in the world do you get eighteen in a month? My insurance regulates my triptans so heavily, I only get NINE PILLS per thirty days, and when the doctor phoned in a script for Amerge, then at the last minute we decided we should stick with Maxalt instead, since the pharmacy had already filled the Amerge (though it had not been picked up), it took three days of back-and-forth between the neurologist, the pharmacy, and the insurance company to get them to allow me the Maxalt. Meanwhile, I found myself in the ER with the Morphine/Compazine cocktail. The Compazine has such horrible side effects with me, it’s nearly as bad as the headache itself, but I was hurting so badly I choose between the two evils: pain or compazine-induced “junkie-needing-a-fix” side effects. Ugggh.

  • Carolyn Nelson Doherty
    8 years ago

    I take 100mg Imitrex too and they work quite well. I’ve spent years giving myself Imitrex shots and now can’t afford them. Treximet had too many side effects for me. Terri have you heard Botox can help with that many migraines a month?

  • Michele Bellah
    8 years ago

    50mg or 100mgs? I take 100mg pills now and I find it works great even if I wake up with it. I worry about that stroke warning too.

  • Staci Lankford Davis
    8 years ago

    I seem to be the only person that I know that can’t take thes types of meds. I have tried Imitrex, Maxalt and Zomig all 3 of these meds made my headache WORSE. Does anyone know why this could be or does anyone else experience this?

  • Marietta Johnson
    8 years ago

    Brandi, Treximet is not only made by the same people who make Imitrex, it IS in fact, Imitrex (sumatriptan) with an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) on board as well… Naproxen (which is the same ingredient as the OTC Aleve, but Aleve is only 220mg per tab). Each tablet of TREXIMET contains 2 medicines: 85 mg of sumatriptan (the ingredient contained in IMITREX) and 500 mg of prescription-strength naproxen sodium (an NSAID).

  • Carolyn Nelson Doherty
    8 years ago

    Topamax was awful for me too. Terrible side effects. I’ve used Imitrex for years and always been thankful for it.

  • Staci Lankford Davis
    8 years ago

    Thanks Brenda… I am trying to reach a gallon a day!!! 🙂

  • Brenda Harvey Walton
    8 years ago

    food allergies are also a culprit

  • Brenda Harvey Walton
    8 years ago

    prescription drugs will only make you worse, my mom had migraines for years and years, once she went off that junk and drank the right amount of water she also hasn’t had one again.

  • Brenda Harvey Walton
    8 years ago

    i took all that junk too, once I started drinking half my body weight in alkaline water I never had a migraine again, was on topamax and that crap about killed me

  • Shelisa Lisa Todd
    8 years ago

    Stacy u may want to talk to ur doctor about seizures medication I hear they work too

  • Shelisa Lisa Todd
    8 years ago

    Axert is a almotriptan that is use to treat migranes and Treximet contains naproxen and sumatriptan so most of migranes prescriptions are triptans

  • Brandi Bundy Dunn
    8 years ago

    Have you tried Treximet? It works pretty well for me, but it makes my scalp feel very tingly and kinda like I’m being scalped, then it knocks me OUT! I wake up after a several hour nap migraine free at least. Its made by the same company as Imitrex. I couldn’t take that Imitrex or topimax because they made me sick.

  • Staci Lankford Davis
    8 years ago

    No, not that one. Does it work like the other 3 I listed?

  • Shelisa Lisa Todd
    8 years ago

    Have u tried Axert?

  • Allison Tartal Bratnick
    8 years ago

    There is a girl in my support group that says her headache specialist does not allow her to take triptans at all because of the risk of stroke. Should I be worried?

  • Lauren Tartal
    8 years ago

    no! not unless you already have some sort of cardiovascular comorbidity, which you do not

  • David Prater
    8 years ago

    Wait… Bowling Green? Is that Bowling Green, KY? There is a support group?

  • David Prater
    8 years ago

    I’ve heard over the years to use an automated blood pressure cuff to kind of keep tabs on things after taking triptans. If I end up taking them several days in a row I try to keep an eye on my blood pressure.

  • Migraine.com
    8 years ago

    Allison, it’s difficult to say since every patient is different based on their current health status, other medications they may be taking, etc. The best thing to do would be to discuss with your physician!

  • Christine Nordstrom
    8 years ago

    is relpax a triptan? I’ve taken imitrex and never had relief but then I’ve taken topamax for about 3 years and still get 2 to 3 day migraines a few times a month. but I have a friend who takes relpax and she takes it into her migraine and it works for her but sometimes she has to take 2 or 3. I’m just not sure what relpax is, I always forget to ask my dr. about it.

  • Christine Nordstrom
    8 years ago

    thank you so much!

  • Migraine.com
    8 years ago

    Hi Christine, Relpax is a triptan. You can read more about Relpax including study data, etc here: http://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/relpax/

  • Dawn Robertson-Furchi
    8 years ago

    Wow, there are times that I have taken Imitrex like 4 or 5 days in a row…or Imitrex 3 days in a row then waited 24 hrs and tried Maxalt. When you are in pain you will do anything. It is miserable to walk around with a migraine when you have LIFE to deal with! I wish there was something that would make these migraines go away forever!

  • Robin Melton
    8 years ago

    Yes, I agree with Janet.. I was always under the impression that too much triptan was bad for your heart? true or not true? Also, just my experience with triptans, is that yes definitely early works better, but I wake up many days with a full on migraine that has been festering all night, and imitrex works fine, even though I will have a huge migraine hangover with those type…. certain TYPES of migraine don’t respond well to imitrex for me and I can go days with no relief, and then all of the sudden it will work again…… thank the medical GOD for imitrex though!

  • Amrita Bhowmick
    8 years ago

    Hi Robin, It is important to regulate the use of many migraine meds (including triptans) as overuse can put you at risk for medication overuse headache, among other things! You can read more here: http://migraine.com/blog/living-with-migraine/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/

  • Janet Geddis
    8 years ago

    Can you address the triptan packaging warnings about not taking a triptan more than 2 days out of a week? I am lucky in that triptans work relatively late in an attack for me, but I worry that I take them too many days out of the week.

  • Teri Robert
    8 years ago

    Most of the triptan packaging says something along the lines of, “The safety of treating more than four migraines a month has not been established.” That’s at least in part because there are no long-term studies of triptan use.

  • Elisa Roth Wheeler
    8 years ago

    Thanks for the info. I did take it a 3rd day in a row and got some relief, and I didn’t have a stroke or heart attack.

  • Karen Stanley Haack
    8 years ago

    Migraines are horrible………

  • Woo
    8 years ago

    Relpax, Axert, Immitrex, Maxalt, Frova, Zomig, Amerge – all are TRIPTANS. And YES, general rule of thumb is to not exceed 10-12 tablets in a month to avoid medicaton overuse headaches. But sometimes once migraines (in my case without aura) have transformed from episodic to chronic, headache specialists, in my case and in very special cases, allow the use of Triptans on a daily basis. This is not recommended of course, just tolerated so that the patient can live. This is my case anyway and I know a few others in our support group. Otherwise I would have severe migraines daily. I’ve been through many withdrawal protocals with DHE & Prednisone to see if I can break the dependency on Triptans and break the chronic pattern of migraines, but even after 5 weeks on Prednisone (started at 100 mg and tapering off) following by 3 days of self-injections of DHE 1ml, 2x/day, the very next day, and subsequent days, I have severe migraines. So, taking daily Triptans is the only way I can function. Again, not recommended, but sometimes necessary. I do not have any heart issues and have had no serious side effects in severals years. BTW, I’ve tried 15 different prophylactics, including cocktails, over 10 years and avoid religiously my triggers, to no avail. Refractory to all treatments, including alternative ones so far. But keeping hope and trying new things all the time…

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