Triptans, a type of abortive drug for migraine, are taken many different ways. Some people use a triptan, and only a triptan, every time they have a migraine attack. Some people alternate with other drugs (due to insurance restrictions or other reasons). Others start with something else, then turn to the triptan.
But how you do it may make a bigger difference than you think.
In case you’re not sure what we’re talking about, triptans include drugs like naratriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan, rizatriptan and zolmitriptan. You might find some of the brand names more familiar – Amerge, Relpax, Frova, Maxalt, Zomig, Zomigon, Almogran and Imitrex to name only a few.
I was looking at some helpful research from Dr. James Banks III, founder of the Carilion Headache Center in Roanoke, Virginia, USA. He has looked at the impact of how you take your triptans, and what works best.
His findings found that triptans work best when you take them first, every time. Further, if migraine-specific drugs (such as triptans) are the only drugs you’re taking (as opposed to various painkillers, opioid drugs, etc) they work even better.
Dr. Banks looked at this from a number of different angles, but here’s just one example. Just how disabled were patients who took triptans first, compared to others?
As you can see here, patients who took triptans first all the time had a far lower level of disability than the others, even when the others sometimes took a triptan first.
Another interesting finding – those who took a triptan first all the time were far less likely to have insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Those who never took a triptan first were more than three times more likely to end up with one of these other issues.
Generally, those who took triptans early on, at the first sign of pain or when the attack was still mild, were slightly less likely to have comorbid depression or anxiety.
How do you take your triptans? Why? We would be interested to hear your responses.