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Sumatriptan tablets

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 08.03.2023 | 2 min read

Sumatriptan tablets are used to provide relief of symptoms during a migraine attack. A migraine is a severe throbbing headache that comes on suddenly and can last a few hours to days. Whilst a headache is usually the main symptom it can have many presentations.

The headaches are usually accompanied by other symptoms. This can vary for each person but include nausea, vomiting, or having a sensitivity to light or sound. It is often eased by laying down in a dark quiet room. Migraines can also be associated with auras - these are warning signals that a migraine is about to happen. Examples of different auras include flashing lights, numbness, tingling, dizziness, or muscle weakness.

How does it work?

Migraines are not completely understood, but symptoms are thought to be linked with a widening of blood vessels in your brain. Sumatriptan belongs to a class of medications called triptans. It is believed to work by activating serotonin receptors on blood vessels in the brain. This causes the blood vessels to become narrower, leading to a relief of symptoms.

Can you buy sumatriptan tablets without a prescription?

Yes, you can buy sumatriptan tablets (at a strength of 50mg) from your pharmacy after having a discussion with your pharmacist. Your pharmacist will ask you a series of questions, including your symptoms, allergies, and medications/medical conditions to ensure sumatriptan is the appropriate option for you. For sumatriptan to be recommended, you must be aged between 18 and 65 and have a history of migraines diagnosed by your doctor. If sumatriptan is not suitable for you, then your pharmacist may refer you to your doctor for further advice.

How do I take the medication?

Take one 50mg tablet at the first signs of a migraine attack. If your symptoms go and return, you can take a second tablet after two hours. However, you should not take more than one tablet for the same migraine attack. Also, do not take more than two tablets in 24 hours. In some cases, patients may require sumatriptan tablets at a higher strength (100mg). These are only available on prescription.

Are there any side effects?

Some people may experience side effects. Common sumatriptan side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, aching muscles, tingling, feeling flushed, and feeling warm or cold. If you develop any bothersome side effects, you should stop taking the medication and speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

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