Triptan side effects – chest tightness, hiccups, and burping

In 2001, I was diagnosed with migraine at age 21 after having had attacks since I was 13 or so.  My doctor, a primary care doctor who mainly treated retirees in my parents’ then-neighborhood in Florida, diagnosed me within a couple of minutes of talking. I had thought I was presenting to him this grand mystery, as most other doctors I had spoken with hadn’t really done much to take my condition (along with the pain and disability) very serious. A couple of healthcare workers veritably shrugged when teenage Janet explained these “really, really bad headaches” that caused me to nap nearly every day after school just to escape the pain.  Imagine how taken aback I was to tell Dr. L. about my symptoms only to have him diagnose me within minutes.

He gave me a sample pack of Imitrex, a drug I had never heard of.  I knew that, given the pattern of my episodes at that time, one of those “bad headaches” (which I now knew to call “migraines”) would be popping up pretty soon. I kept that Imitrex sample pack on me, almost excited in a twisted way to see if it’d work—after all, nothing had really worked in eight years.

The first time I took Imitrex when a migraine set in was just a couple of days after my diagnosis. I lay on the couch in my parents’ house, eyes closed, hoping against hope that this new drug would be effective. And guess what? Imitrex worked almost like magic—it’s worked that fast fewer than five times since then, I’d guess, but that first time was miraculous to me.

Despite reading the pamphlet* that came with the medication, one side effect was a mystery to me for quite a long time. I just didn’t connect it to my migraine or my medication, possibly because a migraine and the meds leave me a little fuzzy every time.

You see: my throat felt tight, or I’d get the hiccups, or I’d burp a lot, or all three.

Turns out that the tightness in my chest was a side effect of the medication.  When I tried to drink water (especially while half-lying down), I would have a harder time than usual swallowing.

Have you ever had a weird side effect of medication that took you a long time to connect to your having taken drugs?  I sometimes think my body, complete with its various ailments, is such a mixed bag of weird sensations that I never really know if it’s the real me, the migraine, or the medication making me experience things that are out of the ordinary for me.  (If you can identify with this idea, you might like this article I wrote a couple of years ago: “Never Knowing If It’s Me or the Migraine.”)

What has your experience with side effects been? Does anyone else out there feel more prone to hiccups or burping after taking Imitrex or another type of triptan?

*Do you read your pamphlets in addition to talking to your doctor and your pharmacist about your meds? I highly recommend that you do!

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.

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