Migraine 101: Triptans

Most people who visit doctors about their migraine attacks will be prescribed a medication in the triptan family. Triptans are a category of medications developed to abort migraine attacks (rather than simply dulling the symptoms of the attack). For many people they are highly effective with few side effects.

Examples of triptans include Imitrex, Frova, Maxalt, Replax, etc. In addition to the more common pill form, a number of these medications can be prescribed in other forms that work faster by bypassing the stomach, such as injection, nasal spray and needle-free injection (Sumavel DosePro). A patch (Zelrix) and a new type of nasal spray product (OptiNose) are in development. (For more information about migraines & pills, see: Why Are Pills Hard for Migraineurs to Use?)

No one triptan is considered safer or more effective than the others. Your doctor will be able to decide which one is appropriate for your situation.

These medications can be extremely expensive, even in the few generic forms currently available. Often doctors can give you samples so you can try a new type of medication before paying for an entire prescription. The various manufacturers offer discount programs to help you out, too. A quick Google search for the name of the medication will help you find information.

Any questions about these or other migraine medications? Fire away in the comments.

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Content by Diana E. Lee.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.