Nervous System Home > What Is Sumatriptan Used For?

Some people may wonder, "What is sumatriptan used for?" Sumatriptan is prescribed to relieve the symptoms of migraine headaches, and in some cases, cluster headaches. The medicine is not effective at preventing headaches from occurring. Sumatriptan has not been adequately studied in children under 18 years of age.

What Is Sumatriptan Used For?

Sumatriptan succinate (Alsuma™, Imitrex®, Sumavel®, Zecuity™) is a prescription medication used to treat migraine headaches. The injectable form of sumatriptan is also approved for the acute treatment of cluster headache (see Cluster Headache Treatment).

Using Sumatriptan for Migraines

Migraine headaches are different from other headaches in many ways. Some of the most common migraine symptoms include:
  • Headache pain on one side of the head
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Throbbing headache pain
  • Upset stomach (nausea) and vomiting
  • Unusual vision changes.
Some people may have an aura before their migraines occur. An aura can be any unusual sign that a migraine is about to happen, including vision changes, numbness, tingling, or speech changes. The most common type of aura is visual (seeing spots, tunnel vision, or other vision changes). Some people have migraine triggers, which are certain foods, drinks, or situations that seem to lead to a migraine (see Migraine Diet for more information).
Sumatriptan is approved for treating migraines with or without aura. Sumatriptan is part of a class of migraine medications called 5-HT agonists (more commonly known as "triptans"). During a migraine headache, some of the blood vessels in the head become dilated (wider than they usually are). Sumatriptan works by narrowing these blood vessels, helping them return to their normal state. This action helps to relieve the symptoms of a migraine.
Because of the way it works, sumatriptan will not help with migraine prevention. Sumatriptan is taken to lessen the pain and other symptoms of a migraine once it starts.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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