Trying All the Triptans

I’ll try anything once.

This life motto works well when nervous about trying wacky foods or the latest dance craze. Once tried, I can either say, "Nope. Been there done that," or add my new like to my Like List. This mantra has done me a huge solid when trying out new treatments for my head.

So, when my neurologist suggested that I should try different triptans to find the best one for battling my chronic migraines, I was ready to add a new like to my list!

What are triptans?

When I first entered the migraine game, I had no idea what a triptan or an abortive drug was. Now I know them to be a class of drug that's used in the treatment of acute migraines. When taken early enough, these drugs can possibly stop a migraine from happening. There are different dosages of pills, injections, and even nasal sprays.

My first triptan love was Imitrex

Imitrex (sumatriptan) is a fast-acting triptan and the one my GP prescribed before I met my neurologist. It worked often but by no means all of the time. During my “womanly time”, my migraines are at their worst. Rarely, does any medication provide me relief.

My migraines last over 36 hours, and that’s just on one side. They flip-flop back-and-forth until they see fit to release me. If my sumatriptan can’t catch them early on, then I begin to do my best impersonation of a sloth in bed.

Trying other triptans

My doctor informed me that there are seven different triptans and all work differently: Imitrex (sumatriptan), Amerge (naratriptan), Zomig (zolmitriptan), Maxalt (rizatriptan), Axert (almotriptan), Frova (frovatriptan), or Relpax (eletriptan).

The only one I'd heard of was Imitrex, but I was ready to see if another was a better fit for my head.

Over the period of time that I tried out different triptans, I learned that some are faster acting initially but don’t last as long in the body and vice versa. My doctor was an amazing source of information about how and why all of these different medications worked. While Maxalt works for some of his patients, it doesn’t work at all for others. I was fascinated by all I was learning.

Choosing the best triptan for me

With my migraines lasting so long, my doctor and I assumed that a longer-lasting triptan like Frova would be a good fit. It wasn’t. My migraines broke through half-way through their cycle both times I tried it.

Frova was out—which eliminated Amerge because they're similar in makeup. Then, Maxalt gave me weird heart palpitations, and Axert was like taking tic-tacs --it didn't work and my breath wasn't even left fresh.

In the end, sumatriptan turned out to be my best match. After trying other triptans, I know I have my best abortive medicine working for me. I have permanently added it to my Like List. Who knows when I might want to join in the latest dance craze -- and I’d prefer to be migraine free.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

When was your last migraine check-up?