Sumatriptan - does it just postpone migraine

I have been taking sumatriptan for migraine for about 6 years now. I find it works at the time (the migraine symptoms go away as long as I keep taking the tablets) and I feell better after the normal migraine period (48 hrs) BUT I am now finding that the following day I start another migraine behind the other eye. This is not something that has ever happened to me before, My migraines have always been monthly or at worst fortnightly. I am finding that 5 consecutive days of being ill is really destructive - my morale and my relationships suffer and it is making work very difficult. It is getting so I am scared to take the sumatriptan because I am afraid it is just postponing the inevitable collapse and I don't know any more what ot say to friends and colleagues - I used to be able to say talk to me in two days time when the migraine will be over but I can't say that with confidence any more. Has anyone else had this experience? Is it the sumatriptan or are my migraines just getting worse? I am 57 and post menopausal so also have hot flushes to contend with - which are also worse when I have a migraine. I know my migraines are not as frequent as some people's but the thought that they might be getting worse makes me so fed up.

22 Replies

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  • Hi, how many sumatripan are you taking each month? You could be getting rebound headaches from them if you,re taking too many? Or it could be linked to your hormones, I have read that migraine gets worse during menopause due to fluctuating hormones and in some people stays that way after menopause if you're very unlucky. I would go to your gp or speak to someone at national migraine centre for more advice. Good luck

  • I typically take 6 x 100 mg sumaptriptan to get me through a 2 day migraine. I dont take any sumatriptan if I get an immediate follow up headache because I figure my body is telling me to rest. So at most i am taking 12 x 100mg sumatriptan per month if I get two headaches and more usually 6 if I only get one headache. My GP put me on HRT for a couple of years to cope with the combination of hot flushes, vaginal dryness and headaches. Worked fine for the hot flushes but not very well for anything else. Came off the HRT last February, when the hot flushes started again.

  • Hi. Yes it looks like you are suffering from medication overuse and therefore getting rebound headaches. I have been taking triptans for 20 years and live on them as I am suffering from medicaiton overuse. I did a detox but it didn't work. 6 Sumatriptans in 2 days seems an awful lot though, it means it doens't work for you. I would advise to to discuss with your specialist trying another type of triptan.

  • Thanks to both, this is really helpful. I think I will take myself to the National Migraine Clinic as my GP seems a bit stumnped by the whole situation and simply reaches for his pharmacopia and prescribes the next pill on the list, It would be really good to get an informed overview of what is happening to me.

  • I would say see a Neurologist. But Gps seem to be more lenient with the meds lol. You could try a pain pill like Tylenol #3 in between the Sumatriptan, kinda change it up, trick your body...???? You will have to just kinda figure out what works for you. Like if I have to work, it's Sumatriptan. If I can go to bed, it's a pain pill. That way , you arent blasting your body with the same med all the time. Your doc sounds good. I would add magnesium, this helps me a bit..

  • I have this too. When I first started taking triptans it didn't happen but after maybe 6 years of taking 2 or 3 a month I started getting another migraine as the triptan wore off. Normally my migraines last 24hrs, so I know it wasn't a 2 day migraine. In other words all the triptan does for me now is delay the migraine by 24hrs. If I do take another triptan on the 2nd day, I will get a migraine start up as the triptan wears off. I have worked my way through 6 different triptans and they all do this. I used to get 8 migraines/days a month. For the last 3 mths I have stopped taking triptans all together and my migraines have droppped to 4 migraine days. So for me I think taking even just 2 or 3 triptans a month for 6 years plus has caused the problem. I really, really hope they start reducing in frequency soon cos it isn't much fun getting thru a migraine without triptans but all they do now is give me a days grace if there is something important I need to do on a migraine day I will take one.

    I am 57 too by the way and my migraines started in the peri-menopause when I was about 40. I still get hot flushes and have had them for more than 10yrs. I tried HRT but it made no difference to my migraine frequency. If you do find a solution let me know!

  • Sounds like there are a few of us women with the same situation :)

    Maybe I should start a Facebook page for us.

  • In my case, I felt it just prolongued the ineveitable The same thing happened with naratriptan. GPs aid there were other triptans I could try but I have decided to give up & just get on with it.

  • I do agree with teadrinker about prolonging the inevitable. Sort of comforting to know that others have had the same experience. Begining to sound like after a while triptans just dont work as well as they used to - at least for some of us. Shall keep looking for a solution.

  • Like any other meds, we develop a tolerance. So rotating a few different meds may help.

  • I was taking about 24X50 mgs of sumatriptan a month until I realised and had it confirmed that I was overusing. I'm now down to 6 or 8 a month after a six week break taking nothing at all. I feel a lot better for the change. My headaches are no longer as intense and I avoid that "background" headache that used to occur between one migraine attack and the next. I also find it easier to cope with a migraine when I decide not to take a sumatriptan which I do in order to keep the quantity down.

  • I remember reading that the triptans work by altering the blood flow to the brain, which is one of the theories about how migraine happens. But there are other theories that suggest that migraine also involves changes to the electrical activity across the brain. So in my lay-man's, unscientific way of thinking, that would suggest that triptans might not work sometimes. I think the ones I tried got rid of the headaches but the auras just kept coming back.

    Also, you have to take it as soon as the symptoms start - as I see flashing lights every day but don't necessarily go on to have a migraine, it was getting impossible to predict what was going to happen, and if i did then go on to get other aura symptoms and took the tablets it was probably too late by then.

  • I have had migraines for over 20 years and once I started taking imigran, about 5 years ago (the only pill that worked for me) they started coming back weekly instead of fortnightly. In January they started daily and I was so over it, so I stopped drinking caffeine after doing some research to see if this would help. After 12 days of withdrawal migraine I finally woke up headache free. It was the hardest thing to do but I have noticed an amazing difference in the frequency and severity of my migraines. I also started taking Migraine Support Formula after finding this on the web, so not sure if its the no caffeine, or this formula, or both, but I am healthier than I have been in years so will keep this up for now.

  • Ww this is really encouraging. I have has practically the same situation as you. After triptans the migraines started to get more regular, now it's twice a week, with the background headache in between...really unbearable. So like you i have given up caffeine, it's been 10 days so far. I have felt lousy and had two very intense migraines in the last 7 days but i know deep down this is the right thing to do. I have not heard of migraine support formula...i will go check it out on the web? Can you tell me what's in it? It is magnesium? Thanks for your post.

  • I find that if I have a two day migraine, Katya, I take at the most two sumatriptan. However, I am on beta blockers every day for migraine which reduces the intensity of the migraines which I had prior to usage. Must try the migraine support formula as I do take chelated magnesium which seems to help. Also, I take fish oil and primrose oil. You may find that primrose oil helps with the hormonal systems and subsequently helps your head. I have taken them for over twenty years and they seem to help hormonal balance.

  • Yes, I find this too. Triptans are good for getting rid of a migraine if you have to carry on but only delay the inevitable. Also, I agree, that if the first is behind the left eye, the follow on will be behind the right eye. It's best to try to restrict medication, but it's so so tempting, I feel the same as somebody else who wrote on here that sometimes they feel as if they would eat the entire contents of the medical cabinet to make the pain go away. It's a pain in the neck to have to keep on going to the doctor to renew the repeat for Triptan, does anybody here buy them over the counter or online?

  • Hi, you could be talking about me ! So similar to my experience, is what you describe. I am 52 now and looking for a way to avoid the rebound sumatriptan trap, and try to control the pain by some other means. This morning, I'm off work so drinking water a lot , avoiding bread , sweet stuff and trying to see if I feel better. The only times I don't get these headaches is when I'm on holiday , preferably in the sun! Alcohol doesn't seem to trigger them when I'm away , either.

  • Hi Katya2, I had this problem it was my body craving the Sumatriptan as I had used it so much when my migraines were bad. I still use it but only if I wake with a migraine or am out when it starts. If I am home I use other medication to that either makes the migraine go or lessens the pain and nausea, call migramax prescribed by my GP. I find most of the time I just take this and have to sleep the migraine off

  • Hi, I was talking about this with my migraine specialist the other day. I can sometimes take too many trip tans and they don't work. I told her that it sometimes feels that it's as if I have to let my body have a good long nasty attack and allow it to run it's course without taking anything for it. Almost to get it out of its system if you know what I mean. She told me that others have said that too. I was also told that not taking any trip tans and going cold turkey with the pain for three months - a nightmare but I've tried it - can decrease my body's tolerance for trip tans again so that they work better.

  • You might think about talking to your doctor about medication to prevent migraines if you getting a lot per month. I remember when I first started using Imatrex sometimes I had to use vicodin too. Nasal sprays with capsacion are effective for me.

  • Well here i am 3 years later at home in the final stages of a migraine. How's it going? I switched to rizatriptan, which was more effective than sumaptriptan so i could take less of them (typically 2-3 a month). I now very rarely get a rebound headache, but i do get more frequent migraines, typically one month with one a month and next month two a month (I know this is not much compared with some people and that I have much to be thankful for). Age 59 and definitely post menopausal i still get the monthly headache but stress seems to trigger a second headache in the same month. Holidays and family parties are a major trigger which really annoys my normally tolerant partner.

    I have cut my work hours to 3.5 days a week and recruited someone else to help with workload. This hasn't reduced the frequency of my migraines but it does mean that there is more time in the system for the recovery/catch-up phase - and for the caring responsibilities that come with ageing parents. I am seriously considering going back on preventatives to try to reduce migraine frequency.

    It was a struggle to get the extra help at work - and very stressful which triggered more migraines and permanently damaged my relationship with some work colleagues.. In the end I used the Migraine Trust info on disability to argue that I am disabled and need support. This was well received because we do a lot of work for the public sector and it helped with the disability question on the procurement form. Not the best reason for being supportive but every little helps.

    With holidays being a major trigger factor I find I am reluctant to fly or to take short breaks with friends which i used to do regularly. This has also caused friction. Does anyone else have a solution to this problem?

  • HI, I have the same problem: Imitrex works wonders but I find I am taking a lot.

    Sometimes, daily. MD's do not like this they claim it causes rebound headaches but what are you supposed to do when you have life to live? We cannot be flat out in bed all the time. This is very frustrating! And my hot flashes have become almost unbearable so I know how you feel (I think).. I have read papers by prominent neurologists who say that there is no hard evidence to back this "rebound" theory up.. They have chronic migraineurs who take daily sumatriptan and are comfortable prescribing this way. Here's what i think: anything you overdo can hurt you. But the real question is: If these headaches keep us writhing in bed in a dark room, what kind of existence is that? I do notice that some days I can get by on half a 100mg tablet. I have a pill cutter and cut them in half.. I take the smallest amount that works. I trust that you know your body and that you will know if you need to add the other half... This may give you a small sense of control.. I also avoid all of my triggers like the plague. When the weather changes, there's nothing I can do so I am guaranteed a headache. Just know that you are not alone. Even though, this disease can make you feel all alone much of your life.. I pray it gets better for you..

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