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Medications & Prescription Treatment

Imitrex

  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    johnsoda4,

    I’m one of the unlucky few who can’t take triptans, so I can’t answer your question specifically, but I’m wondering if you’ve contacted your pharmacist about the issue? It could be that your bottle is defective and might be replaced for one that could work better. Just a thought…

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  • By Anonymous

    Imitrex injections are a life saver for me! sometimes they make me feel like I’m spinning or floating round the room, or having a heart-attack (esp. if its been a while since the last injection) but it passes after 20 mins or so and the migraine is gone.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Each Migraineur is a little different and what works for one may or may not work for another. It’s sad that there isn’t any one single answer to solve the problem of treatment, but so far we’ll have to keep hanging our hopes on further research…

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  • By Ravensun

    I’ve used imitrex for my migraines for several months. Initially, it worked very well, but lately, it takes more of it to stop the symptoms. Prior to using imitrex, I used maxalt, which seemed to work pretty fast… I really hate that my (former) insurance company was forcing me to just use the imitrex, and would only cover nine pills a month….. it usually took all nine to stop a 3-day attack, and I was only supposed to use two a day!

    My migraines are related to hormones. Thoughts?

    Does anyone else develop a tolerance for these medications?

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  • By vhope

    Has anyone experienced a sensation of the throat closing or swelling? I took this rx a few months ago without a problem (one dosage of the 50mg strength) and just took one last night. All of a sudden it felt like my throat was swelling or closing, felt overall ill and then it passed maybe 30 min. later. Headache was gone though. I’m not sure if the sensation was worth the relief from the pain. Thoughts,similar experiences anyone?

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    VHOPE, it is important that you report your experience to your doctor. My doctor let me try a migraine med in his office in case I had an adverse reaction. This made me feel better as well as him, and it might be worth starting a conversation with your doctor and see what he thinks.

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  • By Anne

    Maxalt has made my tongue swell which i was told was because I took it too close to my main medication. Now I am more careful to leave a lot of time between them. It also makes it hard to breathe as does Imitrex as they irritate the lungs. I also have this with beta blockers. I think it is a try it and see type of thing. Our bodies react to different medications in different ways.

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  • By joyelaine

    VHOPE: I’ve been taking imitrex for over 15 years. It’s the only thing that effectively works at aborting my migraines. I take the 100 mg. If I’m on day 3 of a migraine I’ll inject myself. As the medication begins to kick in, at times I do get the sensation that my throat is closing. However, I stay calm and it passes quickly. I have discussed this with my neurologist. For me I’ve been able to breathe my way through the uncomfortable feeling, and stay calm. My throat hasn’t closed up. I’ve talked to others who do not like this feeling at all or the increase heart rate.

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  • By Teania

    Does anyone get a feeling of a stiff neck and shoulders about 15 minutes after taking the imitrex? Like you’ve slept wrong on your neck so now it’s super sore? I’ve been getting that after taking the imitrex but then again I do love the fact it takes away the migraines like a dream. I have only been on it as a treatment agent for a month but **** does it work. I even let a migraine develop into a full blown one to see how fast Sumatriptan worked and it only took like an hour and a half before I could get off the couch and do stuff. I was very happy with that. Now I’ll be going back to my doctor and telling him that. Though I’m wondering has anyone ever tried to take it with Midol? I just want to know if I should try to avoid doing it.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Teania – This feeling you’re getting can be pretty common with triptans. Anything new should always be discussed with your doctor however just to be super sure that’s what’s going on.

    I’m SO happy you have found something that seems to work for you.

    As to taking it with Midol – again, only your doctor knows your medical history and other meds you’re taking etc, so please contact either your doctor or pharmacist for best advice there.

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  • By Tim Banish

    I have used Imitrex for almost 20 years with no major problems. Used the pill first but one day during a severe attack my doctor injected me. Migraine was gone in 30-45 minutes! Switched to injectable after that, and to generic a few years ago when insurance demanded. I do have a slight feeling of shortness of breath and dizziness for 10 minutes or so following an injection, along with the pain level increasing but in 15 to 20 minutes I feel OK. My migraines usually hit while I’m sleeping, 3-6 AM, so if I wake up, take a shot, then nap again for an hour or so I can have a normal day. If I have 2-3 days of migraines though, I’m wore out. But even after all these years it still works well, and I am grateful for whoever invented it!

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  • By dmcbee

    I have the same problems with the Imitrex as I use the 9 tablets in the first week and have to wait another month for a refill. Is there another medication that would work better?

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  • By Tim Banish

    Does anyone else get ringing in the ears after using sumitriptan? I have developed tinnitus after using sumitriptans for several years. This morning after an injection the ringing got so bad I could not get back to sleep. I’m aware that the tinnitus could be from either my age (62) or the fact that in my younger years I played in a rock band and worked in a factory with lots of air lines hissing all night. However the ringing has been worse lately after an injection, and continues to bother me throughout the day.

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    • By Jane

      Sumatriptan has been a Godsend! I have used it for 20 years and just last year I developed tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears). I suspect from the sumatriptan. My ENT doc didn’t have any answers and my hearing test was pretty much normal. Tinnitus is listed as a side effect in the drug literature. I’d be curious to hear if others are experiencing tinnitus.

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    • By Tim Banish

      landoinak-

      YES. Sumatriptan is great but I have developed tinnitus also after using it for years.
      The worst part of it is my migraines occur at night, wake up and take a injection then the ringing gets worse. Hard to get back to sleep when bells are going off in your head!

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Tim Banish – Some drugs can be ototoxic. In a nutshell, this means that they damage the nerves in your ears and can cause hearing problems or tinnitus. This could be an especially bad problem if you are using multiple ototoxic drugs for other conditions, as the effects are cumulative. Please talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist about this, as the effects can eventually become permanent. As a tinnitus patient myself, I can commiserate with you re: the difficulties in sleep and day to day activities it can cause. It becomes a source of stress and can drive a person wonky, especially when it’s bad enough to also interrupt sleep. Personally, I have to go to sleep with some other noise on or the ringing is overwhelming. This is not the best for our Migraines, but neither is sleep deprivation. Working this through with your doctor will likely be helpful for you.

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  • By Tim Banish

    Thanks Ellen- I have been to the doctor about this, referred to a hearing specialist who said hearing aids would help. However as they would not be worn while sleeping I passed on that idea. I do have the TV on while falling asleep, but those days when I get woke up at 4 AM with a migraine I can’t turn it back on and disturb the wife. That is when the tinnitus bothers me the most, after an injection. Sumitriptan is the only drug I take, other than the occasional Aleve. I guess I was wondering if this condition was brought on by the sumatriptan or age. Maybe both?
    I’m just grateful my migraines are not daily like some people suffer. And they are getting less frequent since I’ve retired, no more daily chemical or perfume smells to trigger them and less stress!

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Tim Banish – My hubs is not as lucky as your wife. When I wake in the early morning hours (usually around 1:30, 3, then 4 or 4:30) I turn on an old movie from our collection. Something I’ve seen a thousand times is best because it is familiar and leaves me able to fall back to sleep quickly. Poor hubs has taken to the spare room when I turn the TV on and stays there usually until it’s time to get up for work. Falling asleep is bad too, but sometimes he can put up with the TV playing then. I do at least partially block the screen as it is the noise and distraction I need. Like you, I’ve gone to my Dr but been told there is nothing to be done. I’ve been told that a white noise machine may be helpful, so I’d like to look at that too.

    Good luck. I hope you have better results than I have had so far. Mine started from a fairly early age, so I don’t think age is part of my personal issues.

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  • By AmyBabee

    Sad to report that the first time I took maxalt I felt like I was on a 5 day drinking binge and just recovering. I felt so weak and helpless as if some giant gave me a beating of my life (headache stopped, though). Didn’t even have the strength to open my eyes or get up from the bed. I reported to my Dr. and she took me off it. We are now on Imitrex and also sad to report that it looks like triptans are not for me. We started on a low dose (25mg) based on my earlier history. It actually made my headache worse. She advised I take it at bedtime; now I wake up with the headache every morning …daily! even after I stopped taking it (didn’t even finish the 9 tabs. they gave me). I can’t believe this. We are now thinking of Topamax, and from all the negative reports, I am scared of even trying, but with these levels of pains, I will just go ahead and give it a try, who knows, it might just be what I need. I think we will start on a low dose as well. Fingers crossed.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Amy,

    Were you taking Imitrex every day? It’s only meant to be taken at the first sign of a migraine attack no more than two to three days a week. If you are taking more than that we run the risk of creating another problem. If we take migraine abortive medications and/or certain pain relievers whether they are over-the-counter or prescription we run the risk of getting medication overuse headache formerly called rebound. If we have moh, our migraines may be more difficult to treat and we will have pain every day. Take a look at this information on moh; https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    Topamax is not the “be all and end all of migraine preventive medications.” For some people it works great, for others not so much. But if we all experienced the potential side effects the FDA would never be able to approve any medications! Not to worry, there are over 100 medications that can be used for migraine prevention. Take a look at this information when you get a chance; https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-management-essential-4-preventive-treatment/.

    Keep us posted on how you are doing, OK?

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    • By Snafu6995

      While I know what you are talking about for me after 2 to 5 days with pain I really don’t care I want the pain gone, If I’m going to get another migraine so be it but having no treatment because you might get another one just seems cruel. I’m new here I have had migraines all my life im 40 now I have been on every med they can throw a stick at nothing really helps. I also have cluster headaches as well but thank God they are not often

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  • By AmyBabee

    Hi Nancy, thanks for asking. The Dr. advised to take 2 a day. I took the first one and felt a bit of a relief, by the time I took the 2nd one, I was thinking it will clear it off but alas what I got was a sledgehammer. I had to take excedrin fast because I knew there would be no sleep for me with the pounding going on in my head. After 2 weeks, just for the heck of it, I tried it again with the left over Imitrex and got the same result. I suspect I have MOH to tylenol/excedrin…I am going to have a talk with my physician. Just that we have not found the actual medic that fits my needs for now. Thanks for the links. Blessings.

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  • By katebenson

    Anyone have to get lectures about their meds? I have to fight with my Insurance Company every year for my Generic meds, and yesterday had a pharmacist lecture me about how much I take-and recommend another preventative… Even beta-blockers, even though I have LOW blood pressure… SMH… Please tell me I not alone!

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  • By Jackie

    I currently use Sumatriptan nasal spray use for my migraines but I can relate to having to listen to lectures regarding my “drug” usage and the struggles with the insurance company. My husband is in the military and it is difficult dealing with ever changing phsyicians and continuity of care. Our insurance will only cover six doses per MONTH for my spray and as you know you can use the monthly allowance pretty quick. It seems a viscious cycle at times which makes dealing with the migraine even worse.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi kate,

    Are you fighting with your insurance company over triptans? I don’t mean to add to your feeling of ‘lecturing’ but the thing is if we take migraine abortive medications and/or pain relievers, whether they are over-the-counter or by prescription, more than two to three days a week we run the risk of medication overuse headache or moh. If we have moh, our migraines will be more difficult to treat and we may end up in an endless cycle of daily pain. Can I share information on this topic with you? Here is a link; https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    The other thing I’d like to mention is that if we have more than three severe migraine attacks a month, we need to talk about prevention with our doctor. There are many other options besides beta-blockers. Here is information about this; https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/prevention-medications/.

    I hope this helps —

    Nancy

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi erdington5,

    It’s actually to our benefit that insurance companies only allow a limited number of triptans. Although I’m sorry to hear it is so difficult for consistent medical care in the armed forces. It really shouldn’t be like that.

    Here’s the thing – if we take migraine abortive medications (like sumatriptan) and/or pain relievers, whether they are over-the-counter or by prescription, more than two to three days a week, we increase our risk of medication overuse headache or moh. If we have moh, our migraines will be more difficult to treat and we may end up in an endless cycle of pain. Can I share some information with you on this topic? Here is a link for you to take a look at; https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    Keep us posted on how you are doing, OK?

    Nancy

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    katebenson, honestly I usually do one of two things – either let it slide by so I can get on with my life, or stop them and remind them that these are issues that, by law, are between my physician and me. If I get aggravated enough, I might be tempted to remind them they are not my doctor, nor do they possess a license to practice medicine, and for those who wish to try it despite not having that license, I do know where to report them.

    Understand this pharmacist was probably trying to be helpful, but doing so without knowing your history or the conversations between you and your doctor, and assuming that they would know better – enough to suggest another medicine – I find upsetting.

    I wish you were alone. My mom was in the middle of a large group of people when her pharmacist made a wisecrack comment about the meds she was on.

    Very, very unprofessional…

    ~Ellen

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  • By Becky

    Tim and Ellen, I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this but a “masking” device helps with the ringing. My mom has Menieres and a nerve laying on her eardrum. When the ringing starts she puts her ipod on in that ear. It kinda fools your ear.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    My ringing is constant, with intermittent and very short term deafness in one side. I’m sorry for your mom, but really glad that something simple like an ipod is so helpful to her!

    ~Ellen

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  • By Tim Banish

    Glad the ipod works for your mom. The times the ringing bothers me most is at night, and I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing earbuds in bed. That and I would probably destroy the ipod and buds if I actually fell asleep wearing them. LOL

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  • By Jackie

    Hi Nancy,

    You are absolutely right about the meds. However, I am more than pleased with the results I am receiving from my implant relief from the chronic migraines is welcome. The problem with the military active duty doctors are required to deploy and often when their commitment to the military is finished they leave. I have no problem with sharing my information.

    I recommend your website to anyone who asks about migraines which included an RN who took care of me while I was an inpatient.

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  • By HannahS

    Hi all,

    Me again! I was initially prescribed generic sumatriptan tablets for my weekly migraine attacks, however as they always begin during the night I was always too late taking them for them to be effective. I didn’t really experience any issues with the tablets and never looked into side effects etc.

    When I was finally referred to a neurologist and told him I had no luck with the tablets he prescribed me the injections. When I used the first one I was amazed… within about 15mins the pain was gone. Totally gone. I felt like absolutely fine!

    I’d say that 9/10 times the injections work, however they tend to take a little longer to work these days. Between 30 – 45mins. Which isn’t a problem, I just try to take a nap. I do experience a horrible creeping heat feeling over my head, and a very dry mouth initially.

    I done a little more research into the injections than I did the tablets… And I have become more and more reluctant to use them if I’m honest. A while ago I was using one injection a week, although over the past 2 months I’ve only used one (thanks to topiramate).

    My main concern with the injection however, relates to the reports of sudden heart attacks/problems bought on by using the it. I’m only 27, however I am a light smoker (no more than 10 a day), and I am a little out of shape shall we say… My cholesterol and BP are both fine. But I’m still petrified that I will use the injection and drop dead…. I will not use it when I’m on my own.

    I’ve been using the injections now for about 12 months… But I would say my fear grows each time I use one! Totally ridiculous, considering I smoke less now, I’ve lost 1.5 stone (and counting) and am more healthy now than when I first started using them… :-/

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    HannahS –

    Please talk to your doctor about your concerns. There are many side effects listed, but few actually cause problems. That said, only your doctor can help you decide what is the best thing for you.

    There are many different medicines in the same family as sumatriptan. Sumatriptan is the triptan with the most cardiac side effects, so trying another might be helpful for you. It’s important to treat your Migraines asap and being afraid of the medicine that will help you, well, may not be helpful.

    ~Ellen

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  • By HannahS

    Thank you for your response Ellen. The only other triptan I have tried before is rizatriptan – the melt ones? That had no effect whatsoever. Are others available in injectable form? Tablets appear fruitless for my attacks unfortunately.

    I have spoken with both my doctor and neurologist about my concerns and they both assured me that the frequency at which I use the injection is nothing to worry about… They did suggest I give up smoking, and I have cut back over the past couple of months – from about 20 a day to 10. I admit I’m stuck at 10 a day, and can’t seem to get lower than that! Maybe it should be my New Year’s resolution! 🙂

    Wishing you all a very Merry and hopefully pain free Christmas guys.

    Hannah X

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  • By Tim Banish

    Hannah-
    I’ve been using injectable sumatriptan since the generic was introduced, maybe 5-6 years now. I used Imitrex prior to that, about 8 years. I never had any problem with Imitrex, but have some side effects with sumatriptans. Mainly the heavy chest and warm feeling for a few minutes as it kicks in. Not sure if those side effects are caused by the generic or just my body aging/adapting to the drug.
    Anyway, for the pain it relieves I’ll take the side effects. Since both drugs are so new there probably are no studies yet about long term effects.
    Merry Christmas everyone!

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  • By HannahS

    Hi Tim,

    How often do you have to use the injection? I agree – I am so thankful for the drug. I was starting to think there was nothing apart from a brick to the side of my head that would stop the pain!!

    Having read some horror stories about it, however, I’d just rather work more towards preventing migraine attacks in the first place. I’ve used sumatriptan since 2011 in either tablet form or injection but as my previous posts suggest the more I read the less I want to use it.

    I am becoming more healthy, my doc & the neurologist have little concerns (Apart from the smoking) – and so I suppose I should worry less. However having a mild anxiety ‘disorder’ I suppose doesn’t help! lol!

    Fingers crossed the topiramate continues to help and my new lifestyle also helps to improve the frequency/severity of my attacks… Therefore lessening my need for the drug I love and hate at the same time 😉

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  • By Anonymous

    Actually Tim,

    Imitrex has been around for about 20 years now on the market and it’s generally recognized as safe. In fact, not only most abortives but most preventatives do not have any long term effects. That being said, there is a potential for an increased risk of osteoporosis with antiepileptic medicine even if used for other things.

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  • By Tim Banish

    Hannah-

    I use it only as needed. At times I can go two weeks or more without a migraine, but then other times I can have two or three days in a row with one. (like this week) I’m not concerned with the side effects since the relief is the ultimate goal.

    Dr Whyte-

    Yes I know Imitrex has been around for some time, I started using it around 1997. I believe the brand Imitrex is safe, but I’m concerned with the generic. As the generic version is newer to the market I doubt if there are any reports of long term side effects. I know being in my 60’s doesn’t help, but I’ve had lots of changes since I started using the generic.

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  • By Eln

    I have had an allergic reaction from two of the generic brands. My throat would swell up and my voice would become hoarse and a whisper, I would take Bendryl to counter the effects.
    I found the generic from Teva Labs works very well and have requested my doctor to write my prescription for the specific generic brand. What makes the generic brands different???
    I’m 56 and have been on Imitrex since mid 1990’s, making that around 20+ years, it is the only relief for me, between the tablets and the injectable. Preventatives have not worked and I have been prescribed many different ones between the years of 1985 through 2013.
    ELN

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    ELN,

    Generics can vary in available dosage up to 20% above or below the original. That’s a HUGE variance and can be very much a problem for a lot of patients. You have it though… the importance of figuring out which brand works for you, and then not changing brands. I suggest this for all medications.

    Generics are also often made with differing preservatives and other additives that are considered non-active ingredients. This can include things like dyes and powders designed to keep the medicine in a form that dissolves appropriately, etc. You can ask your pharmacist for literature that will give specific information on EVERYTHING that is in your generic. Knowing that you have had an allergic reaction could be really important, especially if it was a reaction to something like a preservative, as that same preservative could be used in other medicines you may need someday. This is important information to have.

    You often have to ask your pharmacy for a specific brand each time, but most pharmacies are really good at helping with this. Some will keep your preferred brand in their computer systems and give it automatically. Others, such as Walgreen’s, require that you call in and speak to a pharmacist when you refill to get the brand you need. Try to give them a week before you actually need the medicine in case it needs to be specially ordered.

    I would encourage you to continue trying different preventives. There are so many out there that you would have to continually try new ones regularly for 25 years to try them all on an individual basis. Then there are combinations too, which may be effective for some patients. It’s really not a matter of finding one drug that suddenly magically makes all your attacks disappear, but finding something that makes you better. Sometimes it’s several *somethings* that, like a layer cake, can be helpful.

    One other thing I really want to be sure you know, is that there are doctors who specialize in Migraine and headache treatment. Being treated by one of these doctors can be literally life-changing, and I encourage every refractory patient to take the opportunity to do whatever you need to get to one of these doctors to see if they may have better insight that might be helpful. Here is a link that is often really helpful for patients to find the closest specialist to them: https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/

    Hang in there… We’re here to help and offer support 🙂

    ~Ellen

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  • By kim716

    So today is the first time I’ve had to look up the side effects of Imitrex. I’ve been on a 50 mg generic for awhile now for my chronic migraines (along with my preventatives). Because I usually have very little warning of my migraines, the Sumatriptan would take anywhere from 30 minutes up to over an hour to take effect. Recently, my pharmacy changed brands and the last couple of doses have made me feel terrible. I’ve had the heavy chest which makes it feel like I can’t get a good breath and makes me dizzy. I get a pressure and heat feeling in my shoulders, neck, and in the back of my head.
    It really freaked me out at the time, but the pain is gone faster than usual. It makes me feel better to know it’s somewhat normal. I’m supposed to see my doctor again next week and this will definitely come up.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    kimberly716

    I’m glad you’re already thinking about talking to your doctor about your side effects. It’s important because most of the time they’re side effects that go away without any trouble, but rarely they can be symptoms of other things that need to be checked out. This is one reason why it is so vitally important to see a doctor who is extremely educated and familiar with dealing with these issues in Migraine and other conditions. Kudos to you for being right on the ball!

    ~Ellen

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  • By Steve b

    Day 18. The last 3 days the waves of migraine are slightly better. This week is going to be tough so week shall see. Imitrix is the reason I’m able to function at that high level of stress and concentration.

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  • By Evelyn C

    I have been successfully (mostly) using Imitrex for my migraines for about 10 years now and I have a question for other users. I’ve been paying very close attention to my migraine symptoms and have realized that I get very, very emotional (crying over silly things, outrageous anger for no reason) prior to the start of a migraine and here’s my question – is it okay to take Imitrex when I start this emotional roller coaster? I’m asking because I do have side effects from the Imitrex, mostly severe neck stiffness and pain, and don’t want to deal with the side effects if the Imitrex doesn’t work because I didn’t take it properly. My doc just tells me to take it at the very beginning of the migraine attack but didn’t answer the above question to my satisfaction so I’m turning to other migraineurs for more input.

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  • By Fil

    I want to find out if anyone who is taking Imitrex has had seizures. I was taking Imitrex on an as needed basis for migraines. I had a seizure in June 2007. I was put on Dilantin. I had MRIs which were normal. My EEG after my seizure was not normal.
    After a few years I wanted to come off the Dilantin. I had another EEG and it was normal. So, the doctor let me stop taking the Dilantin and was fine for about 1.5 years. I was still taking Imitrex when needed. I then had another seizure in July 2010. I had taken a few doses of Imitrex (I think two 50 mg doses) because I had a really bad headache for a couple of days. Not that high a dose for a two day period.
    I am back on Dilantin and have not had a seizure since. I stopped taking Imitrex. I am on a very low dose (200mg/day) of Dilantin. My blood level is very low. The last Dilantin test that I had my level was 3.2 mg/L. Supposedly one needs a level of at least 10 mg/L. I am way below the therapeutic dose.
    My current neurologist (only two visits) and another have tried to switch me to other anti-seizure drugs that were supposed to help with migraines but I had side effects with both that were not tolerable. They were Zonisamide and Topamax.
    When I told my current neurologist that I thought my seizures were related to Imitrex he said that was unlikely. He said that there was no evidence that Imitrex caused seizures.
    I did some research and quickly found information from GlaxoSmithKline that there is indeed evidence that Imitrex can causes seizures. I just wrote a letter to my neurologist with the citation and we will see what he says.
    Anyone else have an experience like this?

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  • By Kerrie Smyres Moderator

    EvelynCraig,

    Mood changes are part of the migraine process and are considered part of prodrome. When they happen, a migraine is already in process in your brain, even if you can’t feel it. Taking an Imitrex as soon as you notice mood changes could be very effective.

    Kerrie

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    • By Evelyn C

      Thanks, Kerrie. The next time I will take the Imitrex as soon as I start my emotional roller coaster and will let everyone know how it goes.

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  • By Emma0mae

    I was just recently prescribed imitrex, and took it for the first time, and I think it made the pain worse. Is this something other people have experienced? I had a couple if the other side effects, as well. Has anyone found that imitrex worked better the second of third time it was tried? And’/or could you predict under what conditions it would be successful? I tend to be wary of prescription drugs in general, but I don’t want to give short shrift to something that could relieve migraine for me. Thanks for reading.

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  • By Melissa

    I have been taking imitrex for about 6mo now. I had taken it about ten years or so ago but had to stop taking it because my heart constantly felt as if it were trying to thunder its way through my ribs. Anyway, after meeting with a migraine specialist a month ago and telling him I was taking it again, he suggested Sumavel DosePro injectors, which is liquid imitrex, in addition to the pills.

    First off, those things hurt like a hammer to a thumb! But once the pain of the needless injection fades I start to feel lightheaded as my heart races in a tight circle. He warned me this was to be expected, but to actually experience it is another thing.

    Has anyone else taken these shots and how do they work for you? For me, the tend to work much better than the pills do, but even then, they don’t completely eliminate the offending migraine.

    Did I happen to mention that they hurt? Yeah, I can’t imagine a shark bite hurts any less.

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  • By Tim Banish

    Melissa S-

    I’ve been using Imitrex (now generic Sumatriptan) via a stat dose pen for years. Yea, it hurts, always has. I used to have to have someone inject me, then one day with a bad one and no one around had to do it myself. Now I have a spot on my left arm I use almost all the time, and over the years it has kind of become numb to the shot. Still feel it, but just not so bad.
    I still get the tightening chest feeling with increased pain for a few minutes, then the migraine begins to fade. In 10 to 15 minutes I’m out of pain but feel tired.
    Careful using both the pill and shot. Too much Imitrex can actually lead to worse headaches.

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  • By Melissa

    Tim-

    It was the migraine specialist that suggested I use both. For a migraine I am to either take two pills when needed, or a pill and a shot, but never two shots. Also, I am to inject either in my tummy or my thigh. He said not to shoot into any part of my arms or fingers.

    My husband, and both teenaged boys, all offered to give me the shots, but for some strange reason they all seemed a bit too excited to do it, so of course, I passed.

    So far, in using the shots, I have noticed that they do work really well, but have yet to completely snuff out the migraine. It gets really close, but my migraines tend to hang on with determined white tipped fingers.

    I have come to the decision that I will never be able to give myself a shot anywhere public. It takes me several minutes to work up the nerve just to press the thing to my leg. And then, as the medicine is forcing its way into my flesh, I can’t help but let out a super fabulous, heart starting, scream 🙂

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  • By Tim Banish

    Melissa-
    Yea those shots do hurt. My first shot was done by my migraine docs nurse. She put it in a regular needle and injected into my right arm where you normally get shots. Told me that was an OK spot to inject.
    I couldn’t begin to think of injecting my tummy, my thigh maybe. It still takes me a minute or so to brave injecting myself too. However knowing the pain will go away after makes it a bit easier.
    I could never use pills due to nausea. Swallow a pill then seconds later it’s coming back up. If I had all the pills wasted that way I could start my own migraine pharmacy!
    I now can give myself a shot almost anywhere, public restroom, in the car, at work when I still worked, but always needed 10-15 minutes to chill and let the medicine do its thing. Only good thing is most of my migraines are at night, they’ll wake me in the middle of the night, my head pounding. I can inject and usually get back to sleep within an hour. There are some nights that doesn’t happen though, and I’ll lay awake for hours. Kind of like the medicine has some 5 hour energy mixed in with it!
    Anyway keep trying the shots. I would ask your doc why he says not in the arm. That’s a normal place to inject, not quite as tender a spot as the thigh and definitely better than the tummy.

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  • By Melissa

    Tim-

    It might be because mine are needleless.(for some reason, in the office, I thought they sounded wonderful! What the hell was I thinkin’?!) They force the medicine directly through my skin via a blast of pressurized air.(OUCH!) I haven’t, and will not, inject into my tummy. The pain they elicit from just my thigh is enough to close that door! Quite firmly, I might add! LOL

    My migraines come on whenever they damn well feel like. Which sucks because I’m constantly being blindsided by them. I hate when they come on in the middle of the night because by then the blasted thing has had time to dig in for the long haul. Those ones are usually the ones that ruin the rest of my night and all of the next day. Meds, so far, haven’t been able to fully squash those ones. Meds might soften the sharp edges of pain stabbing my brain, but that’s it.

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  • By AnAudLife

    I’ve been using Imitrex for 20 years now, 8-12 times per month, I’ve always used the injections because I start puking so quickly after onset that there’s no time for pills and the nose spray rarely kicked it.

    I’m familiar with the tightening in the throat, flushing in the face, the “can’t breathe” feeling but all of those effects were bearable and subsided within just a few minutes and 10 minutes after injection the migraine was totally gone, so were those little side effects and life was wonderful again.

    Imitrex literally saved my life because I was so miserable, in severe pain, I lost jobs, had no social life for migraine interruption, etc…I was ready to kill myself although I doubt I would have…but in such pain and life so miserable, I still felt like it.

    Now, after 20 years I can no longer use Imitrex. The last three injections I took caused severe, and I do mean severe chest pain that I have never in my life felt before. It originated in the center of my chest, like where your heart is and it migrated upwards into my shoulders, neck, jaw, upper back and even my left arm. I thought I was having a heart attack, it lasted for 20-30 minutes and then would subside leaving me totally wiped out.

    After the 3rd time of that happening I went to my PCP the next day and he ran blood work and an EKG. There were no indications that I had a heart attack but my Doc said what happened to me just ended my Imitrex use. I was devastated!!! He said that I could very well have a heart attack given my age, family history and prolonged use of Imitrex, so that ended it. He said, listen to your body because it is warning you. I nearly had a panic attack sitting in the Doctor’s office just imaging my life without Imitrex.

    So now, I’m on Fioricet for the migraines when I get them and now that I have high blood pressure I’ve been put on a HBP medication that may even help with the migraines, it’s called Lisinopril, I start taking it today. No over the counter meds have ever helped my migraines, none. I can’t take OTC or prescription nsaids because of stomach issues so the popular Cambia is out too.

    I won’t give up trying to find a solution. I hope the Fioricet and Lisinopril do the trick.

    My main question for y’all is this…Has anyone that used Imitrex successfully for years had to stop taking it for heart issues? Just curious, wondering how often this happens to people.

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  • By Tim Banish

    AnAudLife-

    Sorry to hear you can’t use Imitrex anymore. It has been my life saver too. I’ve been taking it since 1989 (I was 38) with no side effects other than the normal chest tightening for a few minutes. However when insurance insisted I switch to the generic I began to have different side effects. There have been several manufacturers of the generic “sumatriptan”, and I assume each has their own formula. I started to get ringing in the ears after an injection, which has gotten to the point the ringing now happens all day/night. It could be age or past life issues, but no one in my family has any hearing problems.
    No heart problems, I did have to take a stress test when my doc heard about the chest tightening though. I was about 54 at that time, showed nothing.

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  • By MrsAngie

    I was recently prescribed Imitrex to treat my migraines. Both times I have taken it, I have experienced a rushing feeling in my head (rapid pulse), stiff neck and shoulders, burning around my ears… And then vomiting. Severe, sudden vomiting. Then about 20 minutes of hand tremors.

    Is this normal? I have a follow up appointment with my doc next Friday, and I think I’m going to ask for an alternative. At this point, I’m scared to take it again. Any advice?!

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  • By Tim Banish

    Amharakal- Your side effects are not normal, talk to your doctor about these.
    Imitrex can cause some chest tightening, that rushing feeling, tingling or burning ears. The sudden vomiting can be caused by ingesting a pill, one bad side effect of migraine. The hand tremors are definitely not normal.
    There are numerous medicines out there to treat migraine, one will work for you but it’s a challenge to find which one works.

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  • By Rocksister

    My insurance will only cover six pills of generic Imitrex. No other triptan drugs are covered. The dosage is “one every four to six hours,” so that tells you how far those six pills will go. No doctor that I have been to in the past ten years will prescribe pain meds (Fiorinal, etc.). Before that I had a family doctor who would prescribe me 30 pills with eleven refills. I should have stocked them in the freezer because now I cannot even get one. I have a 42 year migraine history, complete with knockout shots at the ER, cat scans, MRI’s, X rays, biofeedback therapy, chiropractic treatment, five neurologists, three orthopedists, and the list goes on. Even my gyno tried me on low dose hormone pills for my migraines. With drug laws like they are now, I hold out little hope of help. Fiorinal is so cheap, too; 30 pills was less than my $8 co-pay. But the doctor is the holdup, it’s not the insurance company. So I continue to have to go home and lie down for the Imitrex because the side effects put me down. So as far as medicines to treat migraines, I can neither get the prescription nor the insurance coverage. Out of luck.

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  • By ChrisCake

    Hi all – I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Imitrex and it’s very hard to find an answer to my question… when my migraines get more frequent, when is it time to stop taking a triptan to prevent medication overuse headache? I seem to always get in a bad cycle in the winter months. I’m also on botox, which has given me some relief but I still endure this bad January cycle. I’ve taken 3 frova last week, an imitrex on Saturday and a Frova last night. I tried to wait out the migraine to see if it got worse and sure enough it did. Took the Frova when I was at a 7 last night and now the next day its down to a 3-4. But I’m too scared to take another triptan in fear of starting MOH. Do I just wait this out? Try to sleep it off? (Which hasn’t worked as well as it did when I was a teenager, I’m 31 now.) I just know that you should always take triptans at the onset of the migraine, which I did not do yesterday and now today I’m 8 hours into it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  • By Jeff Rapp

    Caoakley, be care combining Frova and Imitrex. Frova is a long acting Triptan compared to Imitrex which is short acting. When I used to take Frova (before my cost became $120),you were only allowed a max of 2 Frova in a 72 hour period. I also had less side effects with the Frova. I am waiting for for Frova to be available in a generic form so I can switch back.

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    Caoakley,
    Avoiding medication Overuse Headache is not black and white answer. I recently asked my doctor to outline what she believes would be too much and what the timeframe is for taking additional meds. She gave me perameters to follow, but I’ve often found docs to have differing opinions. This article gives the guidelines from the International Headache Society, which can give you a good place to start:

    https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/

    Next time you think you may be stepping into MOH territory, call your doc to see if he/she would recommend taking another abortive or trying something else.

    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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  • By Anonymous

    OMG! I just joined this site and it is truly amazing what I have learned from the posts on various topics I’ve browsed. According to the posts, all of my problems – tinnitus, tingling in my hands, thinning hair,kidney stone and other kidney issues are potentially attributable to the Imitrex/Sumatriptan and Topamax/Topiramate I’ve been taking for umpteen years! I simply never knew. Honestly – I never did! But the thing of it is, I’d rather have all those problems than suffer with a head that feels like it wants to implode…because I can’t function like that.

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    AbsinthePlease,
    I’m so glad you found this site! All of the side effects you mentioned absolutely can be attributed to different Migraine drugs. It’s up to you to decide if the side effects are tolerable enough to stay on those meds…and it seems like you feel the trade-off is worth it.

    I do want to encourage you to talk to your doctor about all of these symptoms if you haven’t before. He/she may want to run a few tests just to make sure these issues are caused by something else.

    Best wishes!
    -Katie
    Migraine.com Moderator

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