Triptans for Children and Adolescents

Triptans, drugs developed specifically as migraine abortives, have long been used by adults.  And children too, actually.  But the adults have benefited from much better information – trials, studies … but things are improving for children.

Studies on triptans for children have suffered because of various factors.  Obviously, experimenting on children is rightly frowned upon.  Also, there’s a very high placebo effect when it comes to children.  Finally, the data is going to be, by nature, short-term.

Two drugs are approved in the USA for use with children/adolescents of various ages – rizatriptan (Maxalt) and almotriptan (Axert).

Reading through some of the study reviews, it seems that besides these, sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig) have the greatest potential for treating children.

Two more important notes.  Triptans have generally been safe for children, when taken carefully under the supervision of a doctor.  A child should never be given someone else’s prescription.

Second, some triptans work in one form and not in another.  It’s very common to prescribe a nasal spray for a child, for example.  Wafer medications may also be effective.  Read more here.

Sometimes children don’t like the “aftertaste” of a nasal spray.  Try giving them a hard candy after taking the medication.

There is one more thing that is unique when it comes to child migraine.  The attack tends to pass quicker than it does in adults.  If you find that the symptoms go away just as fast without the triptan, skip the medication and try a simple home remedy.  This will avoid issues that can come with medications, and still give the child a feeling of “control” over their symptoms.

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