National Migraine Centre
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Maxalt when to take

I take Maxalt which is rizatriptan. The instructions are very clear that the drug should not be taken until the headache starts. However if I wait until then the drug is ineffective. I find that, contrary to the manufacturer's guidance notes, if I take the drug the moment the aura starts then not only does it work really well but it actually reduces the length and intensity of the aura.

So am I just odd or have the manufacturers got it wrong?

Has anyone else had the same experience?

5 Replies

Triptans should be taken when the attack begins. In many cases this means before the pain kicks in. The wording is just sloppy: for headache read attack.

The problem is dealing with the rebound effect. If you don't ride out an incipient migraine you can easily end up taking triptans every day. There's no easy way of reconciling these contradictory ideas.


I was told to take it with the first symptoms. But beware takng too often. I limit myself to treating twice a month otherwise I get medication overuse headaches which are a nightmare to treat as you have to stop taking anything for at least 2-3 weeks.


I've had numerous conversations with my doctor about this subject. What I've been told by my doctor and pharmacist is you take the medication right when the "attack" starts. That means as soon as you know it's starting and an aura definitely means one is coming. Also, they said you can take two Maxalts per week....three if you really need it, any more than that you can get rebound headaches.

Everyone is different and I wish you luck.


Thank you for all your replies. It is clear now that when they say "headache" they mean "attack" - pity they are not more precise in something which is so important. I have to say though that Maxalt has really changed things for me. Instead of totally debilitating migraines which wiped me out for 24 hours or more, with the Maxalt plus two soluble 300 mg aspirin, it almost like I don't have a migraine. I tried for more than 30 years to sort this out through NHS. It was only when I went privately to the Migraine Clinic that I got this sorted and it has really transformed things for me!


I'm with you - obviously haven't looked at the instructions as thoroughly as you have as I wasn't aware it said anything about waiting until the headache started but definitely would go with taking in the aura phase.

I tend to take much less than a full wafer - find that I can probably get away with 1/8th if I catch things early enough.


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