So the most effective tool against a migraine in progress is a triptan. It just is. But not everyone can take them. And for some people, they actually don’t do a thing. But for those of us that they actually do work for and can take them they are the most effective tool. If you use them right away. And when you have migraines frequently sometimes you want to wait and see ‘how bad the pain is’ before you take it, thus decreasing its effectiveness. Or you have one of them special wake up with a full-blown migraine and then it is already well past the window.

If you are a man over 40 or a woman over 55, have a history of cardiac conditions or coronary artery disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoke tobacco, you should be evaluated by your physician before taking triptans.2 This class of medications can narrow blood vessels, which may cause or exacerbate cardiac disruptions and other vascular side effects.

See for list of current triptan medications

triptan-for-migraine-yay-boo PIN

Here is what typically happens:

  • The migraine is actually completely aborted. Yay!
  • Absolutely nothing happens. Boo!
  • It aborts the migraine. Yay! But then later, maybe even just a few hours later, it comes back full strength. Boo!
  • It sort of dulls the migraine which then sort of gains strength as the day goes on. Uhg. That is a Boo.

It isn’t, like some think, a magic aborting pill. I wish it were. But there are days when it does a wonderful job. And lately, mine is not. Which likely means I need a new one. I think my brain has gotten used to this one. It aborts, for a bit, but the migraine always comes back. And trying to sleep like That, isn’t working well for me right now.

Timing is important with triptans. Preferably the earlier into the migraine the attack the more effective the triptan is. Delaying can reduce effectiveness and lead to these issues of the migraine coming back… or this not fully aborting a migraine. This is a complex issue with chronic migraine attacks when one does not necessarily know which migraine to choose to treat when the next may be worse.

just-take-a-pill-migraine meme

I get some bad side effects but even if I didn’t these are typical side effects:

  • Your brain completely shuts down.
  • You Seriously want a nap

Most common side effects of triptan use for migraine as per WebMD  (This can vary with specific triptan medications and there are, of course, rarer side effects. Always discuss side effects with your doctor)

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Pain at the site of the shot
  • Sleepiness
  • Tingling

And if you get migraines every day there is this little factoid:

  • You can only take 2 a week which leaves 5 days unaccounted for. Uh. This seems really problematic to me. Even with really frequent migraines, but not exactly daily, this can be a problem. Untreated migraines? Not fun, man, not fun at all. Especially when people expect you to Function through it.
  • The fact you can only take 2 per week can lead some people with chronic migraine (more than 15 migraine attacks per month) to delay taking the medication to see if the migraine is going to be severe which lessens the likelihood it will be as effective. However, knowing which migraine to take it for when you have chronic migraine can be a difficult choice. Take it one day and you may need it much more another and then cannot.
  • Taking it more than 2 days a week can lead to (MOH) Migraine Overuse Headaches and that is a beast of headaches caused by overuse of many types of medications used for migraine, including triptans.

Nevertheless, there are an excellent option and when we use them the best we can they can be quite effective.

See more on migraine treatment

Study: cannabis for migraine

Aimovig for migraine

Review: Icekap for migraine

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2 thoughts on “Triptans for migraine: Yay! and Boo!

  1. i understand exactly what you mean. Unfortunately insurance won’t cover the new GammaCore (I think that’s the name) it’s a nerve stimulator so no drugs, so we wouldn’t have to worry about medication overuse headache. Hopefully, they will cover it soon and it works for both of us.
    and there’s new preventative meds coming out soon. I sure hope insurance will cover that immediately. here’s to more pain free days (or less pain)
    xo wendy


    1. Oh how I am really hoping those new CGRP medications work wonders for us all. We all need some sort of relief. But also there was a new abortive coming out for people who cannot take triptans. I was thinking of trying that when it does due to the more extreme side effects I can get.


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