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What is Zolmitriptan?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 January 2020
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Zolmitriptan is a medication that is almost exclusively used to treat people’s migraine headaches. Available in several different forms like oral tablets and nasal spray, people prescribed this drug begin using it when a migraine first starts, and might take several doses to fully alleviate the migraine. Directions may differ per patient on how much to use and how often to take the medicine for unresolved migraines.

There are a number of health warnings associated with Zolmitriptan and many drugs that may interact with it. Before prescribing it, doctors will want a full medical history to rule out certain dangerous risk factors, and to make certain the drug is the most appropriate choice. In particular, anyone who has/had significant forms of cardiac disease like uncontrolled high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, or transient ischemic attacks is at risk from this medication of having another cardiac event. Should things like rapid heartbeat or chest pain occur when this medicine is taken, people should alert medical personnel immediately.

There are medications that may conflict with Zolmitriptan because it acts on serotonin receptors. Those taking medicines to treat depression or other psychiatric disorders should check with doctors first before taking this drug. In particular Zolmitriptan should not be paired with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or herbal drugs like St. Johns Wort. Speaking with a physician about medical history and all medicines, street drugs, herbs or supplements taken is the best way to avoid drug interactions.

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Once doctors have determined that Zolmitriptan is the appropriate medicine, people can still expect some side effects, lesser or great, depending on the individual. One of the most common side effects of the medication is dry mouth, but people might also experience some dizziness, sleepiness, a sense of the skin being numb or prickling, difficulty swallowing, nausea/vomiting, indigestion, muscle pain, or excess perspiration. Some of these side effects may disappear with more frequent use, and some people will feel them mildly or not at all. Each person’s reaction to a medicine isn’t necessarily predictable.

More serious side effects include those that might indicate cardiac events, and allergic reaction. If a person suddenly has swollen lips, mouth and/or tongue, rash/hives on the skin, and is showing breathing difficulty, this might suggest allergy. In these cases medical attention is needed right away.

Despite a high side effect profile, Zolmitriptan can be an extremely useful drug, arresting the pain of migraines for many. It is one of the top-selling generic drugs because of its usefulness. Determining whether to take it this or any other medicine should always be a matter of medical deliberation, where doctor and patient decide if the particular medicine is most likely to provide benefit without provoking harm.

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