Triptans for Migraine Headache Relief

For many years, folks suffering from migraines had to deal with the pain, nausea and interruption to their daily lives because no effective treatment was available. Over the counter medications just did not do anything for them. In the United States alone, more than 28 million suffer from migraines -- which translates to a high amount of time lost for work, social activities and daily routines. After some time spent on research and testing, a class of drugs known as triptans were approved that offered effective migraine headache relief.

Triptains are very similar in their make up to serotonin, a neurotransmitter. It is believed that too much serotonin is a factor in triggering migraine headaches and triptans work by either reducing or blocking the nerve receptors so that serotonin is regulated. Studies show that triptans work well for migraine sufferers who do not have sensitive skin. Migraine sufferers who have sensitive skin can still use triptans, although it is recommended that they take triptans within the first 20 minutes of the onset of migraine.

Even though migraines come on suddenly, most people have dealt with them enough to identify the triggers and symptoms. Migraine sufferers would experience an aura just before a migraine episode. An aura could be flashing lights or colorful spots in the vision. The aura helps them know when they should reach for their dose of triptans. This can help to stop a migraine before it fully develops. If it does continue, it generally won’t be as intense or last as long. Triptans can help reduce the sensitivity to light and sound and well as the nausea even if the pain still persists.

Since triptans were released in the 1990s, they have been available in a variety of names including Imitrex, Zomig and Maxalt. Imitrex belongs to the first generation of triptans known as sumatriptans. Zomig and Maxalt belong to the second generation of triptans known as zolmitriptan and rizaltriptan, respectively. Second generation triptans are comparatively more effective than the first generation triptans because they tend to last longer. This long-lasting relief property is especially welcomed by those whose migraine systems last for several days.

Most triptans are in the form of a pill, but you can find triptans such as Maxalt that are in wafer form, which dissolve in the mouth, and in nasal spray form. In recent studies, nasal sprays were shown to get into the blood stream faster because the nasal membranes are thin. If the migraine is very severe, a doctor can administer a shot to get the medication in the blood immediately. There are possible side effects to triptans that you need to look into before you decide if this is the right method for treating your migraine headaches.

Page Updated: November 12, 2016
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