Migraine

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A migraine is more than ‘just a headache’


A migraine headache is a common condition, which affects millions of people in the UK. Many people find a migraine is characterised by a severe throbbing pain usually felt at the front or sides of the head.

There is a common misconception that migraines are nothing more than intense headaches. In reality, a migraine is a complex neurological condition that can affect the whole body, causing pain, nausea and sometimes visual disturbance (aura and flashing lights). It is recognised by the WHO as one of the most disabling lifestyle conditions. Feelings of exhaustion can stay with migraine sufferers for days after the head pain itself has subsided.

Migraines affect 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men, usually starting in early adulthood. They can last anything from 4 hour to 72 hours, and migraine attacks can happen once a year or once a week. Usually diagnosed by a doctor, the symptoms of a migraine vary between a migraine with aura, migraine without aura and migraine aura without headache (silent headache). Other common systems of a migraine include nausea and vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, sound and smells.


Migraine Causes and Triggers


The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they're thought to be the result temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain, or because of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain.

It's not clear what causes this change in brain activity, but it's possible that certain genes make you more likely to experience migraines as a result of a specific trigger. Around 1/2 have a close relative with the condition, suggesting that genes may play a role.

One of the best ways of preventing migraines is recognising the things that trigger an attack and trying to avoid them. You may find you tend to have a migraine after eating certain foods or when you're stressed, and by avoiding this trigger you can prevent a migraine.

The common triggers that can bring a migraine on, vary from person to person, but generally include physical and emotional stress, tiredness, missing a meal, drinking caffeine or alcohol, and foods containing tyramine (some cheeses, cured meats and yeast extracts). Also, loud noises, bright lights and changes in climate.

Keeping a migraine diary may be useful in identifying possible triggers and monitor how well any medicine you're taking is working. In your migraine diary, try to record:

  • the date of the attack
  • the time of day the attack began
  • any warning signs
  • your symptoms (including the presence or absence of aura)
  • what migraine medication you took
  • when the attack ended

Migraine Treatment Options


We can prescribe migraine tablets so you can buy migraine treatment online such as Sumatriptan, to be take once a migraine attack has started. Taken with an anti-sickness medicine and an over-the-counter pain reliever, these treatments can help you feel better within a couple of hours.

Sumatriptan tablets, injection and nasal spray are available on prescription only. You can also buy packs containing two 50mg tablets from a pharmacy without a prescription, but only if you have previously been diagnosed with migraines. For a pack of six 50mg tables, simply fill out the online consultation and if the treatment is suitable, medications will be prescribed and posted to you.

An effective way to prevent migraines is to identify your triggers and avoid these as detailed above. Preventative migraine treatments are available if you have tried avoiding possible triggers but you're still experiencing migraines. You may also be prescribed these medicines if you experience very severe migraine attacks, or if your attacks happen frequently.

These include Topiramate, a medicine originally developed to prevent seizures in people with epilepsy, but is now much more commonly used in migraine. Propranolol is a medicine traditionally used to treat angina and high blood pressure, but is shown to effectively prevent migraines. Amitriptyline is a medicine originally designed to treat depression, but has also proved useful in preventing migraines.


About Sumatriptan


Sumatriptan should be used when simple analgesics such as paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen or these simple analgesics combined with codeine are not effective on the symptoms of migraine. Sumatriptan can be used by people who experience less than 10 episodes of migraine each month. Sumatriptan migraine treatments should be taken at the beginning of migraine attacks, but it should not be taken to prevent a migraine, rather only to treat one.

It does not matter if you take Sumatriptan with or without food. Take Sumatriptan with some water. Adults and children aged between 18 to 65 years old should take one tablet as soon as you start experiencing the symptoms of a migraine.

After the first dose, wait for at least two hours before taking a second dose. You should only take a second dose if the first dose was at least somewhat effective, but it did not completely relieve your migraine symptoms or your headache came back. You should not take a second Sumatriptan dose if the first dose did not work, but you can try taking Sumatriptan again for a future migraine.


How does Sumatriptan work?


Sumatriptan Generic is a popular migraine treatment and is only suitable for patients who have been previously diagnosed with suffering from migraines. It is the generic version of Imigran, and like Imigran it contains the active ingredient sumatriptan succinate.

Sumatriptan belongs to a class of medications known as triptans. Triptans are different to painkilling medications, as they work to reverse the changes in the brain that are thought to induce a migraine attack. They also work to alleviate the symptoms associated with a migraine.

Sumatriptan succinate is thought to reverse the temporary widening of blood vessels in the brain. The widening of these blood vessels is thought to contribute to a migraine attack. By stimulating receptors called serotonin (or 5HT) receptors found in the brain and therefore contracting the blood vessels, sumatriptan succinate works to treat the cause of a migraine, as well as helping to reduce any associated symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light or sound.


How effective is Sumatriptan?


Your migraine symptoms should improve within 2 hours of taking Sumatriptan. The following treatments can be taken with Sumatriptan to maximise relief. Please speak to us to check they are suitable for you.

Paracetamol 500mg 2 tablets up to 4 times daily; Aspirin 300-900mg up to 4 times daily, or Ibuprofen 400mg up to 4 times daily, for extra pain relief.

If vomiting or feeling sick is one of your migraine symptoms, try anti-sickness – Buccastem M 3mg up to 2 times daily. These tablets are designed to work when placed under your lip, do not swallow them.


How we can help at Brent Pharmacy


Get Pharmacy Medicine discreet to your door from Brent Online Pharmacy. To purchase Sumatriptan, simply fill out the online consultation and if the treatment is suitable, medications will be prescribed and posted to you. Sumatriptan is a Pharmacy Medicine, so you can only get it if from a Pharmacist.

Side Effects


There is the potential for all medications to cause side effects, however the particular side effects experienced will vary from person to person. Sumatriptan is safe and effective for the majority of people who are eligible for treatment.

Some common side effects that may be associated with Sumatriptan can include nausea, vomiting, tiredness/drowsiness, or dizziness. These side effects affect less than 1 in 10 people. Some of these symptoms may be caused by the migraine itself.

Further side effects of Sumatriptan include pain, heaviness, pressure or tightness in the chest, throat or other parts of the body, or unusual sensations, including numbness, tingling and warmth or cold. These effects may be intense but generally pass quickly. Some people also experience nausea, dry mouth and drowsiness. These side effects are usually mild and improve on their own.

For full information on side effects, including hair loss and heart attacks, and correct use, see the patient information leaflet. If any side effects concern you, contact us. As with all medications, talk to your doctor to seek medical advice if you suffer allergic reactions.


Is Sumatriptan safe long term?


Sumatriptan should not be used daily, as this may lead to a medication overuse headache (see below). If your headache gets significantly worse, or you develop any unusual symptoms, you should see a doctor urgently.

It is safe to continue taking Sumatriptan over long periods of time, if it works and it taken when needed, as prescribed. All medications have an expiry date. Make sure you don’t use treatment after the expiry date.


Sumatriptan drug interactions


Sumatriptan can interact with other medicines, which can sometimes be dangerous. It is important that you let us know which prescription, over-the-counter medicines and recreational drugs you are taking so that we can prescribe Sumatriptan safely.

Do not mix Sumatriptan with another triptan when treating the same migraine attack. Triptans are medications that can help to reverse the changes in the brain that may cause migraines. Triptan is contained in some nasal sprays.


Generic or branded treatments?


Some treatments contain the same active ingredient but are sold under different names. If the active ingredient and the dosage are the same, the treatments will have the same effect and work in the same way.

What is an Overuse headache and what should I do?


A medication overuse headache, or a rebound headache, can be caused by the overuse of the drugs used to treat migraines. This is why it is very important that you speak to your doctor if you need to take more than 10 doses of Sumatriptan tablets in a month. Your doctor may instead need to discuss prescribing you preventative medication that you can take regularly to help prevent migraines.


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