Sumaptriptan has been used for cluster headache for many years, but it may not be used in the way you think.
Cluster headaches are not only known for the very severe pain which is the most well known symptom, but also for their predictable cycle. Lasting from a few minutes to a few hours, they come during a “cluster period” lasting weeks or months, most often followed by a remission of months or even years. Some patients, however, do not experience remission, but continue to have attacks up to eight times a day.
One of the most common abortive treatments is a sumatriptan injection. Cluster patients often have injection kits, so that they can inject themselves right when an attack hits. It is usually effective within a few minutes, and can be repeated once in the day if the pain continues or returns.
But here are a few other facts you might not have known about sumatriptan and cluster headaches:
- A sumaptriptan injection does not always involve a needle. For example, Sumaval DosePro pushes the sumatriptan through the skin in a tenth of a second without a needle.
- Sumatriptan works better for men than women. Women with cluster respond better to inhaled lidocaine.
- Some cluster patients take a sumatriptan nasal spray, or even oral sumatriptan. These approaches work, but take longer, which limits their usefulness in a headache like cluster which doesn’t usually last long to start with.
- Usually patients experience very few side effects, and they don’t last long. Typical temporary side effects include nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. However, if you get hives or experience chest pain or pressure, you should call your doctor immediately.
- Because cluster is rare and studies are limited, there have been very few studies into various other triptans. Zolmitriptan is most commonly used next to sumatriptan, but it does not tend to be as effective. However, for some patients it may have fewer side effects.
- Dosages vary depending on how you’re taking sumatriptan, from a small dose of 6mg for an injection to a large dose of 100mg when taken orally.
Have you used sumatriptan for cluster headache? How well did it work for you?
Also see: Cluster vs. Migraine (Infographic)