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What should I know before taking triptans?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

According to the manufacturers, the safety of using triptans more than 3 or 4 times a month is not known. Daily use has been reported as safe. Using a triptan on 10 or more days a month may cause headaches due to overuse of the medication.

People at risk for heart disease will need a cardiovascular evaluation before taking a triptan. These include women who are past menopause, men over age 40, people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smokers, people who are obese, and people with a family history of coronary artery disease.

If you have basilar migraine or hemiplegic migraine, you should not take a triptan.

If you have coronary artery disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or peripheral vascular disease, you should not take a triptan.

If you have had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), you should not take a triptan.

If you have impaired kidney function, triptans may not be good options for you.

If you have impaired liver function, triptans may not be good options for you. If you have severe liver impairment, you should not take eletriptan, naratriptan, or sumatriptan.

Patients with phenylketonuria (PKU) should be aware that dissolvable oral forms of rizatriptan and zolmitriptan contain aspartame.

Triptans may not be good options for women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or may be pregnant. It is not known if they are safe for pregnant women.

If you are breastfeeding, triptans may not be right for you. They are or may be passed into breast milk.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.