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Imitrex (sumatriptan)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023

Imitrex® (sumatriptan) is a prescription medicine used for the acute treatment of migraine, with or without aura, in adults who have a clear migraine diagnosis. It is a type of drug called a selective 5-HT1B/1D receptor agonist (triptan).1-3

Imitrex is designed to only treat a migraine that has already begun. It works best if it is taken as soon as migraine symptoms appear. Imitrex should not be used to prevent migraine attacks or reduce the number of migraine attacks you have. It should not be used to treat other types of migraine, including hemiplegic migraine or basilar migraine.1-3

Imitrex is available in 3 different varieties:1-3

  • Injection
  • Nasal spray
  • Tablet

Overuse of acute migraine drugs like Imitrex can cause medication overuse headaches. If your migraine attacks worsen while taking Imitrex, your doctor may decide to stop your treatment with it.

What are the ingredients in Imitrex?

The active ingredient in Imitrex is sumatriptan succinate.1-3

How does Imitrex work?

Imitrex works by binding with 5-HT1B/1D receptors on blood vessels in the brain. This process helps narrow blood vessels around the brain. In turn, this reduces inflammation that can trigger head pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, and other migraine symptoms.1-3

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What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Imitrex injection include:1

  • Pain or redness at the injection site
  • Tingling or numbness in your fingers or toes
  • Dizziness
  • Warm, hot, burning feeling to your face (flushing)
  • Discomfort or stiffness in your neck
  • Feeling weak, drowsy, or tired

The most common side effects of Imitrex nasal spray include:2

  • Unusual or bad taste in your mouth
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Warm, hot, burning feeling to your face (flushing)

The most common side effects of Imitrex tablets include:3

  • Tingling or numbness in your fingers or toes
  • Warm or cold feeling
  • Feeling weak, drowsy, or tired
  • Pain, discomfort, or stiffness in your neck, throat, jaw, or chest
  • Dizziness

These are not all the possible side effects of Imitrex. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Imitrex. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Imitrex.

Other things to know

You should not take Imitrex if you have:1-3

  • An allergy to sumatriptan
  • Heart problems or a history of heart problems
  • Narrowing of blood vessels to your legs, arms, stomach, or kidney
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Severe liver problems
  • Hemiplegic migraines or basilar migraines
  • Had a stroke, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or problems with your blood circulation
  • Have taken other migraine medicine within the last 24 hours

Before starting treatment with Imitrex, tell your doctor if you:1-3

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
  • Have heart problems or a family history of heart problems or stroke
  • Have kidney problems
  • Have liver problems
  • Have epilepsy or seizures

There is not enough data to know if Imitrex is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding before taking Imitrex. They can help you decide if Imitrex is right for you.1-3

Imitrex can interact with other medicines and cause serious side effects. Before starting treatment with Imitrex, tell your doctor if you take antidepressant drugs called:1-3

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Before beginning treatment for migraine tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of: