Taken at the first sign of pain, Sumatriptan tablets work quickly to treat the symptoms of a migraine in patients who don’t respond to conventional drugs, like paracetamol.
It’s thought that migraines are caused by the temporary widening of blood vessels in the brain. Sumatriptan is part of a group of medicines known as ‘triptans’ that work by constricting these vessels to minimise swelling and relieve pain.
You might also see them referred to as serotonin receptor (5-HT1) agonists. Other types of migraine tablets are available from this group of medicines, including Rizatriptan (sometimes sold under the brand name Maxalt) and Zolmitriptan (Zomig).
How to take Sumatriptan
The usual dose of Sumatriptan is one 50mg tablet, but some people are prescribed a stronger dose (100mg tablet). It is most effective when it is taken at the first sign of pain, but it can be used at any point during a migraine attack.
Most people start to notice a difference within 30 to 60 minutes of taking the tablet. If the first dose has no effect on your migraine, then do not take a second tablet for the same attack.
If you respond well to the first dose but your symptoms return within 24 hours, then you may take a second dose. You must leave at least two hours between these doses, and you should never take more than 300mg of Sumatriptan in a 24-hour period.
If your symptoms are long-lasting and/or severe, you should seek medical advice.
Sumatriptan 50mg cannot be used to prevent a migraine, so it is most effective when the pain starts and not at the early warning stage when you experience an aura.
An aura is a warning sign that you are about to get a migraine – usually flashes of light or another visual disturbance, but not everyone has this symptom. Sumatriptan is suitable to treat migraines both with and without an aura.
We recommend that you read the patient information leaflet before you start treatment.
Sumatriptan can cause side effects in some people. The most common include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, and sensory disturbances
- Muscle pain
- Temporary rise in blood pressure straight after taking it and/or flushing
- Feeling weak or tired
- Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
You may feel a sudden and intense pain or tightness in your chest after taking Sumatriptan. It should pass quickly, but if it becomes severe or long-lasting, then you should stop taking the tablets and seek medical attention.
In rare cases, Sumatriptan can cause an allergic reaction. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek urgent medical help:
- Skin rash, such as red spots or hives
- Tightness in the chest or throat
- Trouble breathing or talking
- Swollen face, lips, tongue, or throat
Sumatriptan should not be taken by anyone under 18 years of age or over 65. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Some medicines should not be taken alongside Sumatriptan, in particular:
- MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitor)
- Drugs containing ergotamine
- SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) anti-depressants
- Other triptan medication
- St John’s Wort
Not everyone is suitable to take Sumatriptan. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:
- Have had an allergic reaction to a medicine in the past
- Have any symptoms of a heart problem, chest pain, or pressure in the chest
- Have reduced liver or kidney function
- Have a history of fits (seizures)
- Have high blood pressure
In rare cases, Sumatriptan can increase your risk of heart disease. If you are a heavy smoker or use nicotine replacement therapy, especially if you are a man aged over 40, or a woman who has been through the menopause, your doctor may need to check your heart function before you start taking Sumatriptan.
For a full list of side effects and cautions, download the patient information leaflet.
Will Sumatriptan affect my contraception?
Sumatriptan will not affect your contraception. However, the combined pill is not recommended in people who suffer from migraines. Talk to your doctor for further advice on taking hormonal contraception with migraines.
Can I drink alcohol while taking Sumatriptan?
Alcohol does not affect Sumatriptan directly, however it is not recommended to drink whilst taking this medication. In some people, alcohol can be a trigger for migraines and cluster headaches.
Is it safe to drive after taking Sumatriptan?
Sumatriptan and migraines can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and visual disturbances.
You should take this into consideration before you decide to drive, operate machinery, or do anything else which involves concentration. We advise that you wait until the symptoms have passed before you do any of these things.
How effective is Sumatriptan?
The effectiveness of Sumatriptan has been confirmed by medical researchers.
They found that four hours after taking Sumatriptan, 65 to 78% of migraine sufferers achieved relief from their headache, compared with 19% of placebo participants¹.
Is it safe to take for a long time?
Using migraine relief tablets frequently can cause something known as ‘medication overuse headaches’ that could make your attacks worse. If you find yourself needing to use Sumatriptan regularly, then call your doctor to discuss other treatment options.
They may be able to prescribe you with something to prevent your migraines.
Are there any other treatment options?
Sumatriptan also comes as a nasal spray and an injection, which can be used to treat migraines and cluster headaches. If these alternatives are ineffective, then there are other 5-HT1 receptor agonists available:
These drugs work in the same way as Sumatriptan by reducing the swelling of blood vessels in the brain and alleviating the pain of a migraine headache.
You may also be able to take anti-sickness tablets (anti-emetics) to manage your migraine symptoms.
We recommend keeping a diary of your migraine attacks, so you can look for common patterns that might indicate what triggers your attack. With some lifestyle changes you may be able to limit the number of migraines you get.
How do I buy Sumatriptan online?
Buying Sumatriptan online is quick and easy with Post My Meds.
- Browse our range of migraine treatments
- Complete an online consultation form and select your treatment
- Buy securely with fast delivery from Royal Mail
Before we dispatch your order, one of our pharmacists will review your completed consultation form to ensure that you are eligible to take Sumatriptan. We only prescribe medication where we believe it is safe to do so.
If you place your order before 4pm on a weekday or 11am on a Saturday, we will dispatch it the same working day. Anything after this will be processed the following working day. Your order will arrive by first class post in unbranded, generic packaging to protect your privacy.
Is it safe to buy medicine online?
Online pharmacies, like Post My Meds, are subject to all the same rules and laws as high-street pharmacies. We are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council and everything we sell is approved by the medicines regulator in the UK (MHRA).
We have over six thousand reviews on Trust Pilot, and we are rated as excellent by our customers. If you have any concerns about buying Sumatriptan online, speak to our pharmacy team who will be able to talk you through the process.
- Sargent J, Kirchner JR, Davis R, Kirkhart B, National Library of Medicine [online] Oral sumatriptan is effective and well tolerated for the acute treatment of migraine: results of a multicentre study [updated August 1995; cited 22 September 2021] Available from: https://bit.ly/2XRs2Wu
For more information on Sumatriptan, browse our frequently asked questions or download the patient information leaflet. If you cannot find what you’re looking for, our friendly team at Post My Meds are on-hand to help.