The Unknown Long-Term Effects of Medications

I am one of the lucky migraineurs out there who has experienced tremendous migraine relief as a result of using prescribed migraine-specific drugs called triptans. It’s been over a dozen years since I was—at last—formally diagnosed with migraine disease and got a prescription for Imitrex. I took my first dose the summer of 2001 and was flabbergasted at how quickly I found relief from my migraine episode.

In the years since, I’ve tried several types of triptans for my migraine. Imitrex, Relpax, Maxalt, and Frova are four that come to mind right away. While I’m very careful to follow my doctors’ orders and take all medications (migraine-specific and otherwise), I don’t have full confidence that my behavior is safe.

The following statements are not intended in the least to besmirch the pharmaceutical industry. I have been helped tremendously by advances in pharmaceutical science and am so grateful for the medical advances that have improved my quality of life in regards to migraine and any other illnesses I have or have had. But, as someone who worked within the pharmaceutical industry for a few years, I know that no experiments are foolproof. Every drug carries with it a host of potential problems. Doctors, scientists, and the FDA do a standup job of making sure a drug is relatively safe before it enters the marketplace. But note the key word here: relatively safe. There are no guarantees. Even those with the highest level of expertise cannot know 100% how a drug will affect an individual over time.

That idea brings me to my main point: I’ve been increasingly concerned of late with just how many pills I have ingested over the years. I am approved by my doctor to take my triptans 2-3 days out of the week; in theory, that shouldn’t be frequent enough to make me spiral into MOH (medication overuse headache). But there have been no studies I’m aware of that actually look at the long-term effect of triptans on migraineurs. To my knowledge, there are no longitudinal studies on migraineurs who have spent a decade or longer on these acute care medications. For years upon years, I’ve taken several triptans a month—and I have no idea what that may be doing to my body. No one can say with certainty what those long-term effects are. (If I’m wrong and you know of any studies that look at these effects, please enlighten me with a source!)

Most of the patients I talk with are like me: we pretty much trust in the system and make an educated guess that the drugs our doctors recommend are going to do much more good than harm, that the benefits of taking such drugs far outweigh the positives. I look at the system (including the arduous and sometimes perplexing process of FDA drug approval) and, in spite of some reservations and skepticism, decide that I will pursue Western medical treatment for my ailments.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t worry a little bit about the unknown. How if my brain being affected by all the pills I have taken over the years?

How do you weigh the positive and negative aspects of treatment options? Which treatments have you decide to pursue despite your concerns, and which have you passed on?

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 (49)
  • stacysillen
    4 years ago

    Topomax, Depakote, Tegretol, Lamictal; I used them all, and after some years and four broken bones I found out anti-convulsants gave me osteoporosis! It wasn’t on the paper with the pill bottle either, but an online search confirms it. If I’d have known I’d have been exercising harder or better, gotten off of those pills!! And they didn’t even work on my migraines… And the two Benzodiazepines I was on at the same time for years? Dr. Oz just did a segment on the over-use of benzos and their side effects. It’s nasty. And, it wasn’t til my 3-4 Botox session that I really got some relief. Go figure.

  • Ruth Swain
    4 years ago

    Hi I’m Ruth, still working very part time as a RN…At this point, I have tried everything, depending on my finances, what my insurance will pay, the samples my doctor gives me, and what’s new. Before Imitrex I basically was in bed in agony several times a week, but still I had to work. No narcotics helped. I took whatever I could find to just fall asleep when I got home and make the pain and other symptoms go away. The coming of Imitrex was like a new dawn! Over the years I’ve probably taken it much too often, and developed chronic daily migraine. All the triptans work for me, to abort the migraine symptoms, some better than others, but none of the preventatives really do that well. I had the most trouble with topamax. Eye pain, visual disturbances, and loss of words and memory. I am back on timolol and maybe it has helped me a bit have fewer migraines, it’s hard to say after all these years. I started at 23 with pain. As a child I had weird visual symptoms without pain..I have 2 separate migraine variants besides my usual right sided behind the eye pain. So~ I have the icepick headache, my common migraines, and another that is difficult to describe, but it’s very similar to a cluster headache and luckily is rare. I also have lots of abdominal symptoms. I failed Botox after 3 trials. Currently I’m in the least stressful work enviroment I can find, and only work very part time. I took social security early. I had 2 children 13 yrs apart, and have a very supportive husband. I still get many many migraines, but the intensity and frequency is getting less as I work less. I know my new working enviroment without the bright lights, noise and stress has made a huge difference. I went from a playful happy extroverted, ICU nurse who everyone respected and enjoyed, to a woman who can rarely go out. I am still able to travel and visit my grown children in LA and NYC. I lost most of my friends, due to me cancelling so often..I’m sure many of them just think I’m crazy, but when I read your stories, I am grateful that the triptans have worked so well for me. I don’t really care at this age about any long term damage. I did what I had to do to survive. If it hadn’t been for my children, I might have killed myself long ago..My bloodwork is normal, and my brain still functions well enough to sucessfully work (easy job) and babysit my grandson when I am in LA. Your stories inspire me, and make me feel not so alone. This is a terrible, silent disease, and I am happy for the “half-life” that pharmaceuticals have given me. Without a husband who makes good money, and an inheritance, I would not have financially survived, and certainly not put both my kids through college. I am blessed, because IF the triptans were not an option for me, I cannot even imagine a life! There are times I think this disease should be terminal rather than chronic!
    I smoked pot in my 20’s and it produced headaces. I surely don’t think it will help me now. I cannot drink alcohol as it’s a major trigger. I do take fioricet with codeine every day even when I don’t have pain as I seem to get less full blown migraines and it generally makes me feel so much better. Limiting the amount of light from computers, TV, overhead, etc. really helps too. I’ve lived 40 years now with this, and I’ll try anything my doctor recommends. I see a neurologist and I’ve been his patient a long time. It’s just the way it is for me now. Drugs don’t scare me. Migraine without relief scares me. I suffered for far too many years before Imitrex was invented. And if the mixture of caffeine, codeine, butalbital and tylenol makes my days more tolerable, gets me out of bed, and functioning, then so be it. I find I have a huge tolerance for all meds after all these years. I try to avoid all stress, especially on TV, only watching what makes me laugh. Endorphins are powerful as is good nutrition. Currently using a super food supplement called Athletic Greens, and maybe its placebo effect, but I swear I have more energy. Also use hi potency Magnesium by Nature Made, 400mg softgel, twice a day. It’s a daily balancing act, and I wake up every morning surprised all these pills haven’t killed me YET!

  • Michele Deneau-Sheeley
    4 years ago

    I use relax, but I to fear what my life would be like without meds. My kids need a mom, & I have to work to support them.

  • Susan L
    5 years ago

    Hi, I’m Jazzmine. Like you, I began with Imitrex when it first came out. I’ve suffered with migraines since I was 16, and I just turned 70. Before Imitrex, I took other “preventative” meds, which all gave me unwanted side effects, and although Imitrex did divert migraines, it jolted my blood pressure waaaaay up. I had to give it up. Too bad, because it helped the migraines! I somehow struggled with 28 migraines a month as a single, working mother for many years. I guess it helps being young, because I could NEVER manage to work full-time outside the home now. I DO have a home business now, but can’t work through my migraines anymore. I now take generic Maxalt 3 days a week maximum, and also have gotten 2 courses of Botox. I’m waiting for my 3rd to get approved now. Like you, I worry about long-term effects, but I am so debilitated by my migraines – I simply am flat out unable to function, I don’t feel I have a choice. I can’t live a life if I don’t do something. Since I have something between Chronic Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia anyway, I live with a lot of pain regardless. But my migraines are the hell of my existence. So, whatever I will pay for trying to live with them, I guess I’ll have to pay. I’ve made that choice…uncomfortably, as it sounds like you have done, too. Anxious to read what others have to say, too. My warmest hugs to all. And DO laugh! Fortunately, me and a wonderfully funny BFF as well as a very funny hubby keep me going.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi Migraine Girl, I blog as LadyMigraine 🙂 I too have been taking Imitrex regularly – and I admit incorrectly – as often as 5 times per week for 22 years. When it was released in Canada, I was 19 and on that edge of 15 days per month chronic. I live in Ohio; we drove to Montreal to get it. After it was FDA approved I had injections, pills, treximet and as I became chronic daily also tried every other triptan available as well as DHE to break up those cycles and Fioricet 3 or Percocet to just add to the ridiculousness. My stomach is finally shot from NSAIDS. I have no doubt that the miracle of Sumatriptan, the ease, the wonder of the pain relief, nudged me to chronic daily headache before “rebound” was a commonly used term which of course is now MOH and the bane of every migraineuse’s existence. I fell into the trap 20 years ago to get through college, get a job, start a family and now it is too late. Thank you for bringing light to the idea of long-term use / side effects of Imitrex; in my case it was just how well it worked that did me in. Thank you for advocating for us.

  • Christina the Bookworm
    5 years ago

    I am currently taking Frova to abort migraine attacks. I was on Topamax but my kidney eGFR was 53 at my checkup in December. I was told I have chronic kidney disease and told it was either genetic, or I experienced Kidney damage. I was questioned extensively regarding the use of antiinflammatorys. I was told not to take antiinflammatorys. What a shock to find out now that naproxen, which is in Treximet is hard on the kidneys! I was taking that for several years until September. My doctor had me stop taking Topomax(75 mg) in case that has caused my kidney function to drop. I had blood work done last week to see if my kidney function is back to normal. My headaches are now coming 3 or more times a week. I was on steroids a week ago because I had a fourth migraine attack in 6 days and could not take any more Frova. So, yes I am concerned that a medication I took may have caused kidney disease. And I think it is ironic that many people know there cholesterol numbers, glucose numbers, but not the number for their kidney function(eGFR). So now I am waiting for those test results.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    5 years ago

    Christina the Bookworm,

    Like you, I’ve been on long-term meds that hurt my kidneys. Indomethacin is a very difficult drug to take for long periods, yet I’ve been on it for about 10 years. My GFR hovers between 60-65. About 6 months ago I went off it to see if we could improve my kidneys. Unfortunately, I lost my doc, and the new doc did a test that won’t give me a specific number. It just tells me if I’m over 50. Oy vey. Well, at least I know I’m hanging in there so far.

    ~Ellen

  • slhart
    5 years ago

    I have taken Imitrex since it hit the market. I started out taking the shots then the nasal kind and now I get 18 100mg tablets a month and I take them all. I have tried maxalt, frova and neither of them worked as well as Imitrex. When Imitrex went generic my relief decreased. My insurance does not cover brand name drugs if a generic is available. I pay $5.00 for generic or $70.00 for the brand. When I took the name brand Imitrex the side effects of feeling hot/cold sensitivity hit within 20 minutes and lasted about 4 hours. The generic med causes the same side effects but I don’t notice them until the next day?? My concern is the side effects of Topamax. I stopped taking it in 2007 and I still experience visual problems (blurred vision and spotty vision) and a loss of words, thoughts and memories. I’m wondering if this will ever go away. I also heard that the migraines would get better as I age but I gave up hope on that theory.
    I have tried DHE and it didn’t work for me and I’m scheduled for my 3rd botox treatment this week and they aren’t helping either but I keep trying. My Neurologist said it could take 3 treatments to notice a difference??

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    5 years ago

    slhart,

    Three treatments of Botox is considered necessary for a trial. There are a few things to consider here though…

    For example:

    Who is doing your injections?
    Are they doing the appropriate injection points? (31)
    Are they hitting those spots where they need, or just getting close?
    Are they open to changing those points for your personal needs after the trial?

    Specialists are reporting that their patients often continue to get better through the 7th and 8th cycle.

    Injection Botox is an art and a skill. Before giving up entirely, I often encourage patients to try another doctor (preferrably a Migraine specialist) to try another 3 cycles before giving up on it entirely. When it works it can be a great addition to our arsenal.

    ~Ellen

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback, everyone! I am with the majority of commenters here–I will continue taking my triptans as frequently as my doctor approves if it means more healthy days to be as fully myself as I can be. But I still want to work towards taking them less frequently, if possible, due to the unknown: the drugs haven’t been around long enough for there to be reliable studies regarding their long-term effects. It’s also true that we’re not sure how repeated migraine episodes affect the body and brain. So many questions unanswered, but the more we explore the possibilities and push for more research, the better armed we will be. Thanks, everyone, and happy new year.

  • maxgordon
    4 years ago

    I would love to find some peer-reviewed longitudinal studies on the long-term effects of migraines themselves, as well as on various medications. I have never found a preventive medication that worked well enough to justify the horrible side effects, so for most of the years I’ve suffered with migraine (since I about 10 or so, so since 1968), I relied on NSAIDS (I still reach for Exedrin Migraine as my initial chemical weapon). I had negative results with Imitrex taken orally, but have found that the injections work well enough that I can sometimes remain vertical and semifunctional after “shooting up.” I can’t do my work, though; I am an editor and writer.

    Lately (that is, for the past five years or so), my headaches have gone back to the frequency I experienced while in my 20s, which is a migraine at least 3 times a week, and although I “hoard” my Imitrex shots for the level 7+ headaches, it is a rare week in which I don’t have to use it at least twice. Maybe it is just normal aging, but since using the injections (about two years, I think), I feel as though my brain is not as quick, and my memory is not as reliable. I have not seen anyone else mention studies or anecdotal evidence of “brain damage” (I’m generically using the term here) from either the headaches themselves or the medications, but I wonder, given your concerns and awareness, if you have noticed anything in your case? I am almost 57, so our ages may be the main difference. And, of course, there may be a thousand other reasons for my self-perceived cognitive differences.

  • Mardie Crucchiola
    5 years ago

    Don’t take them everyday i got addicted to them and experience bad migraines everyday,which are call rebound headaches. It’s been a month now and i went off imitrex for a month now and i don’t have chronic headaches everyday like i did for almost 2 years. I’m on blood pressure pills and they are working.

  • kate
    5 years ago

    Can someone tell me what DHE is? Also, has anyone tried the medical marijuana? I live in a state where it is illegal…but a mere five minutes up the road in Michigan it is legal. 🙁 I currently use the imitrex injections, and if I didn’t have them I would be in the ER all the time. I do worry about the effects of it, but as I have a daughter I have to take care of, I don’t see any other alternative.

  • Sonya
    5 years ago

    I have a prescription for Maxalt but it scares me. It makes me feel very strange so I have stopped taking it. I don’t want to scare anyone but I met a lady years ago who begged me to stop taking Maxalt. She had a series of 4 strokes in one day that were brought on by Maxalt. They left her crippled on her left side. She was young. Of course I continued to take it for years after that without any problems but then I started having that very strange feeling, like something was very wrong.
    Also, several people have mentioned mixing drugs and that they would rather continue than have the migraine. Well, that scares me too. My younger sister died 9 years ago from her prescription medications. She was 47. The coroner said she had 3 medications in her body, not enough of any one of them to kill her–it was the combination that did it. I’ve always said if prescription drugs should have killed anyone it should have been me. I am currently on 11 prescriptions. I worry about it a lot. Short term and long term.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    5 years ago

    Iamladydi,

    Are you talking to your Migraine specialist or doctor about other options? It’s really important that we discuss all medication changes we want to make before we actually make them. This can be vital information for our doctors to have a part in.

    You are the expert of you, and it’s great to remember that the one with the most to lose, gets to choose their treatment.

    Hang in there, but be sure and understand that controlling our Migraines is vitally important so they don’t get worse. It’s a hard place to be…. Making that decision…. But it’s life altering when you make it right, or wrong.

    ~Ellen

  • DitzzzyWoman
    5 years ago

    I have taken ALL kinds of migraine meds that worked for a short period of time and then stopped working, only to be switched to ‘another’ medication saying that this time, this will work. I have had chronic migraines since I was 26 and now I am approaching 53. The headaches just do not let up at all…and I heard that as you got older then would eventually stop. Someone must have hid the ‘Cease & Desist” order from the ones rampaging in my head.

    I have had to resort to an e-cig to just ‘numb’ my brain. I still have the migraine and still feel the pain and the nausea but the e-cig, all it does is just make my brain numb…and that is the most I am able to do financially at this point.

    The only other method I could think of would be the medical majuaranna route but having asthma and silicosis that is out of the question as well, unless they came up with a liquid that I could vape. Otherwise, it looks like I am destined to have migraines until the day I die.

  • nrsrcht
    5 years ago

    I have also been on the triptans for extended periods. I find that I sometimes take many more than is prescribed, but what is the alternative? This month, I have had 11 days with migraines each morning and the only way to get rid of them is with my Maxalt. Nothing I have taken has prevented these headaches and many of mine are the result of chronic arthritis in my neck and the FMD.

  • Lisa Wood Mcvey
    5 years ago

    I too have been on triptan drugs for 12-15 years and am very worried about the effects on my body. I take them 4-5 days out of the week. Very scary but it’s that our debilitating pain.

  • Michele Deneau-Sheeley
    4 years ago

    same here & that isn’t a life being in constant pain

  • Jan Piller
    5 years ago

    Like many others here, I would likely be dead without my triptans. I’ve been on them for about 12 or 13 years (Chronic migraine for 26 years now). Prior to my triptan, I was unable to move or open my eyes. And yet I had to. I had to work. I had a son to raise on my own. I have no idea if my Zomig is dangerous and don’t really care. It has provided me a life. But it doesn’t work beyond day two of my migraines. It takes the edge off somewhat and the migraine will ebb and flow all day. I still need the quiet and am unable to move well and there’s that damn spot in the middle of my eye but I have recently been given a reprieve by doctor. The best Christmas gift ever. After prescribing Verapamil, I am now on my 4th day without a migraine. I have very very low blood pressure and heart rate so he was quite reluctant to prescribe it. It’s special ordered because it’s such a low dose and time released. I haven’t gone 4 days without a migraine in about 2 years or more. Merry Christmas Dr. Cameron!

  • manxmutt
    5 years ago

    I have been taking triptans for 15 years now and currently taking Zomig Melts 5 mgs 12 each month. I have had to keep increasing and my doctor says this isn’t a problem and that I could have more. I worry about this as I also take amitryptyline 75 mgs at night as a prophylactic. I have had severe migraines since I was 13 and was persuaded to have a total hysterectomy to “cure them” over 20 years ago so not really trusting of what I’m told. My main problem with side effect is chronic tachycardia, pulse is always over 100, can’t be good for me in the long term and taking the triptans seems only to postpone the migraine, so I have to take it again for3 or 4 days until it goes. Tried Topamax which made me feel dreadful. I do worry, but as others have said the alternative is too miserable to contemplate

  • mgh4348
    5 years ago

    I take sumatriptan (generic for Imitrex) and it usually works pretty well. It makes me dopey, so I’ve tried to take a smaller dose, and can usually get by with 1/4 or 1/2 a tablet. This is a great solution to the problem of insurance companies only allowing 9 per month.

  • RTurner
    5 years ago

    I have used triptans correctly for so many years that all I can say is, as long as they continue to help, I will continue to use them. But the one drug that I have not seen anyone mention is DHE – has anyone not used this one? DHE is much harder on the system than any triptan is, but it really for the worst migraines – it at least brings it to a bearable 6 – 7 (daily rate). I have debilitating chronic daily migraines and they have taken me from a Type A personality to a very quiet, stay at home, person who is on disability. Yes, my migraines or maybe the medication or both; have affected my memory and also my processing (thinking) ability, (I get confused easily). On bad days my speech is affected. So I may be a scenario for medication or a scenario for migraines. I know that I am a person unable to receive assistance from any specialist – thank goodness for my regular Doctor.

  • MigrainesAlwaysHaveOne
    5 years ago

    Wow I felt like I was reading my story! I injected DHE for 6 months trying to get off narcotic medication. I think this was B4 triptans. I also got in IV in the hospital for 6 days continuous – I had a migraine that lasted 11 days and they were trying this to “reset” my system. It’s didn’t work, and it really didn’t work all that well for that 6 months. As for triptans – I take probably 10-12 a month and have been for years – I am also very worried – having problems all of a sudden with blood pressure and have speech problems as well. I tried the botox and feel a generalized weakness all over my body, I cannot pick up anything heavy anymore. One day there will probably be a class action suit for this like all the other drugs, but what is the alternative? Be in pain for days, calling out of work, missing Christmas – back up the med truck, I’m drivin!

  • sharp1009
    5 years ago

    I have had migraines since I was a child. And we all know that before they started coming out with these medications, it was take pain meds & you were in bed, throwing up for days…and we still get those days but hopefully not as often. The only thing I say is

    I live in the NOW, not in the what might be or what could happen.

    If that means taking medications that we don’t know the long-term effects to our bodies yet, then so be it! We only have so many good days with our family & friends…we need to live in the moment!!!!

  • sdcross
    5 years ago

    I have suffered from Migraines for about 40 years. Life before Imitrex was barely worth it at times. Once Imitrex came on the market it was like a new world. I started using triptans the moment they came out. Imitrex is the one that works for me. I experience the slow thought when I take it, but I would rather deal with that than the horrendous pain and vomiting if I don’t use it. I have also taken meds as a preventative measure. The problems from that have been far worse than the Imitrex have been.

    I developed what I was told was “tip of the tongue” syndrome that was very bad while on one of these epilepsy treatments. that has never completely gone away. I am better having been off that medicine for many years but it is still very noticeable.

    I have more problems with OTC meds like Excedrin (which doesn’t truly work for me)and rebound migraines than I do with my Imitrex. I have taken this long enough and been studied by doctors over the years so that I know how it titrates out of my system. I know when I can take it and when I have to wait. Yes, I do have a few side effects that have changed over the years, but I am willing to deal with them.

    I would be interested in the long term effects of the triptans but I would also be interested in more studies on how the migraine itself affects us. I have seen articles saying they are like having mini strokes. I have to wonder if there isn’t some validity to this. I had issues with thought, etc before triptans came out. I have to wonder if 40 years of “brain stress” has to have negative effects whether you medicate or not.

  • nrsrcht
    5 years ago

    The mention of “mini strokes” reminded me that when I had a brain imaging study (I can’t remember which one), there were several “infarcts” noted. They weren’t strokes the doctor said, but indications of my most severe migraines.

  • yogina
    5 years ago

    I too have had migraines since I was in high school. When I was in my late 30s they came out with Imitrex. It gave me my life back. I have read that chronic migrainnes can lead to strokes, so because of the frequency of my attacks, I added Topomax a few years ago. After a while it seemed to loose it’s effecttiveness. With the side effects I was happy to eliminate it. My doctor just prescribed Verapamil so we will see if it helps. I am like a lot on here, if I had to choose against long term damage. I would still opt for the medication. It is better than the horrific pain of a migraine.

  • alphabet
    5 years ago

    I will take the risk of heart problems over the desire to blow my head off and the rip-your-guts-out vomiting. If it means the difference between quality of life and quantity, I chose quality.

  • sdcross
    5 years ago

    I am with you! I have dealt with all sorts of side effects over the years trying to find something that stops the pain and nausea/vomiting.

    Imitrex has been my life savor. I keep pills on me at all times. As soon as my hands begin to tingle and go numb (one of my auras) I take a pill and pain is kept a bay.

  • Karen Truett
    5 years ago

    I have been taking Imitrex for my migraines since it was first approved and cost the earth to get! It is the only medication that relieves my migraines and I have taken so many that it really worries me. I did have the Botox injections last year and they made an amazing difference! My insurance only approved one series so I have not had follow ups, but my migraines have been cut in half. I have fewer and the severity is much less. I have had migraines where the blood vessels in my eye burst. I am so thankful to be better and if I can help anyone I will be happy to do so.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi Janet,

    That’s a great question and in fact many people with migraine do have hypertension and cardiac issues and cannot take triptans. Ellen wrote a piece on just this topic. You can read more about it in this link; https://migraine.com/blog/how-to-treat-migraines-without-triptans-or-ergotamines/.

    I hope that helps,

    Happy Holidays,
    Nancy

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hi Nancy,

    Yes, I know there are many folks (including lots of my friends and blog readers) who are not good candidates for triptan treatment. My curiosity isn’t about what to do if one cannot take triptans–I’m more concerned about the lack of research out there about the long-term effects of taking triptans regularly. No one knows how my brain and body are being affected by taking triptans as frequently as 2-3 times per week during tough episodes. I still take the drugs and am so grateful for them, but I do wish I had more information about how they may be affecting my body.

    Hope that makes sense, and thanks for the response. 🙂

    Janet

  • Patty
    5 years ago

    I have been taking those same triptans for many years approximately 3 times a week. I belong to a Wellness program at work and they take a blood test every year and two of the things they check are liver and kidney function. I am 48 and they say my liver and kidneys are working fine. As for any effects on my mind or my heart, by BP is normal, but when I have taken one of these pills, I am less able to discuss issues, state a point, etc. The words just seem to escape me and I feel confused. Even though this wears off as the medication wears off, I don’t like sounding like an idiot 2-3 days a week 🙂
    I would like to add that I have several food sensitivities, and I started taking Quercitin to help block the histamine response. This has really helped a lot. I tried “Histame” and it helped a little, but the cost is ridiculous. Quercitin blocks histamine receptors while Histame helps break down the histamine in your blood. If histamine intolerance is causing some of your migraines, I highly recommend Quercitin.

  • stacysillen
    4 years ago

    Thank you Patty, I’ve just lately found out I don’t even HAVE allergies like I thought I did, and my responses to histamines are way out of whack! Diamine Oxidase seems to help but so expensive. It’s so bad I’m resigned to changing my diet too, to avoid Histamine provoking food. Meanwhile, I just ordered Quercitin based on your post. Time to buckle down and try to heal my gut, right? By the way, botox worked for me, after three times, knocking down the chronic pain. Which is still there simmering underneath, my neurologist assures me. And that has been confirmed by the infrequent flare-ups I’ve had, which are helped by steroids and nerve blocks. Some people hate the idea of toxins injected into them, but I guess they aren’t circulating through my body the way pills are…right?

  • LT
    5 years ago

    I think about this all the time – and not even what one medication will do, but the accumulation of the vast amount of drugs and supplements that have been and still are in my system in the last 8 years.
    I particularly worry about botox – it is a potent toxin! I have autoimmune thyroiditis, and I worry it will make my autoimmune system worse in the long run.
    But, on the flip side, days and days on end of severe migraines, dehydration, nausea and bed rest are also not good for us and could cause long term problems.
    It’s never an easy answer, we just have to trust our instincts.

  • Kristine
    5 years ago

    I’ve experienced Migraines for 1/2 my life. I’m currently 52 and have tried most medications available at one time or another. When they test your blood to make sure you haven’t harmed your liver I think that’s a concern. I know this will sound crazy, but prevention of the mirgraine is the only answer in my mind. Food sensitivities were largely to blame for mine. Do not guess what to eliminate. Be tested for delayed sensitivities to food through Immunolabs. After that I discovered Hypoglycemia. Staying on top of that is crucial. I can drink cofee and take 1/2 an asprin and provide as much or more relief than any prescription. Another option if I still get one is 1/2 of an Excedrin Migraine type medication (some generics avail). Then I increase to 1 pill if needed (up to 2 pills max.) I KNOW someone with a migraine will do anything for relief. I recommend working to determine the cause of the imflamation.

  • Lisa Riley
    5 years ago

    One of things I’m wondering about isn’t so much the triptans (although Frova is saving my sanity) but my 13 year run with a massive 300-400 mg twice daily dosage of Topamax. I started taking it not long after it hit the market, and I’ve not really ever been off it. I don’t know if there’s ever been longitudinal studies of Topamax. Any guidance in that area would be great too! Thanks, and prayers for restful holidays for all.

  • BethBlue
    5 years ago

    I’d like to hear more about the effects of your long-term use of Topomax. I am on a 400 mg daily dose (200 mg twice daily), and my neurologist is concerned about my weight loss, saying he’ll take me off the drug. It has been helping me (along with Botox). I have been on this dose for at least two years, with memory loss being the only significant complaint. The weight loss has leveled off as well, with no change in at least four months. Did you have this problem, or any other significant issues?

  • Sonya
    5 years ago

    Lisa,
    I was taking 200mg of Topamax twice a day for a couple years.It helped me but every Dr. I saw was shocked that I was on that high of a dose. I asked to get off of it because of the speech issues.

  • sdcross
    5 years ago

    I too spent years on Topamax. I had the speech issues too. My doctor called it “tip of the tongue syndrome”. I still have issues with this even though I have been off the drug for a number of years. Could be because of the very high dose I had to take. My metabolism was so high my dose of Topamax had to be very high.

  • Jovial Tam
    5 years ago

    I feel compelled to reply. I, too, took Topamax and it worked very well. I finally spoke to my neurologist about my lack of ability to recall words or spell common words like -carpet or frog. He told me they call Topamax “dope”amax since it tends to make people ‘dopey’. He said a common side effect was cognitive issues. Sadly, I had to discontinue this drug. I am now doing a 3 injection series of botox.
    Hopefully you do not experience these side effects- however I did want to mention my experience.
    Best regards,

  • Ami
    5 years ago

    I worry about it, too. But my headaches are three days on one side, throwing up and wrapping a shirt around my head and stumbling around drunkenly. Then I get a day off. Then I get three days on the other side. So if the sumatriptan has side effects, I’d rather have them than the horrible headaches I had for 20 years before them.

    I’m curious about the side effects Tim is wondering about. What are they?

  • Tim Banish
    5 years ago

    Ami- Since starting sumatriptan succinate injections I have developed tinnitus and ED. Since I’m in my 60’s these could be age related, but I still wonder. I did lots of factory work and played in bands when I was younger, so that could be one answer to the tinnitus. The ED began shortly after insurance made me move to the generic Imitrex. Prior to that I never had any problems sexually. Fortunately for females this isn’t a problem to worry about, but for a male it’s tough to deal with.
    I’ll still take the drugs despite the side effects. No one wants to stay in bed all day with severe pain of a migraine.

  • Patty
    5 years ago

    Jennifer, I hope this doesn’t get around to the pharmaceutical or insurance companies, but you may want to try seeing a second doctor and getting a second prescription for a triptan. My insurance will cover 6 relpax or 12 maxalt a month. Then I discovered it wasn’t an “or”. Now I get 18 pills a month, and it’s really taken away a lot of stress. I’m sure my insurance will put a stop to this someday, but for now they see them as two completely different prescriptions. Of course when taking them you have to treat them as though they are the same, but what a relief not to have to evaluate each day as to whether or not it’s worth taking one of 6 precious pills!

  • Jennifer Kapella Winter
    5 years ago

    I’m with you, suffer from the same as you. But on the flip side tired of trying different drugs that don’t work. Had a bad reaction to propranolol, and the stupid doctor told me to keep taking it because the dose was so low that it couldn’t possibly be the problem. Well then I found out it was not intended for people with low blood pressure. So now I worry when ever they want me to try something new. I’ve given up and just try to deal with it with the six pills of Relpax I’m allowed each month and Aleve. Without the Relpax don’t know what I would do.

  • Tim Banish
    5 years ago

    Good question Janet. I’ve been on Imitrex injectable since 1998 and have wondered the same thing. When you realize how well it eases the pain you don’t really think about side-effects, just cure. I’ve developed a couple of conditions since starting sumatriptan succinate a few years ago, the generic version of Imitrex. Although these conditions could be age related I do wonder.

  • Jennifer Kapella Winter
    5 years ago

    Just curious what do you do if you have hypertension and heart disease?

  • Sojgrensplusmigraines Sue
    5 years ago

    I think these triptans are a miracle drug for us migraine sufferers and if you have no issues with hypertension or heart disease they are safe. I have had an upsurge for the past year since moving from the Northeast to the south near Savannah, GA. After months of trying to not overuse the triptans, I decided to try to follow my pattern and take my Maxalt generic as soon as possible. So when high humidity and low pressure weather arrives, I take my triptan. This proactive approach has helped me avoid that repetitive daily migraine pattern. These drugs help to constrict the blood vessels that dilate and swell during a migraine. I do not think this in any way will cause long- term harm to us or our brains. Using other & more drugs to supplement the triptans I think could be more harmful. I am thankful for the dissolving version as Maxalt as I do not need water. I would like to see more articles on taking the medication as a preventive in certain predicted trigger situations.

  • Poll