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Imitrex® is a medication used to treat migraine headaches. It is believed that migraines are caused by irritation and swelling of the blood vessels in the head. Migraine medicines like Imitrex® can often reduce that inflammation. The common side effects of Imitrex® include changes in hearing, vision and mood; gastrointestinal problems; allergic reactions; and more.
This medication can cause changes in hearing, vision and mood. These side effects can happen independently or can be related to serotonin syndrome, a rare but potentially serious side effect of Imitrex®. Determining the cause of these symptoms can be difficult, so the distinction should be made by a medical professional.
Nausea, vomiting and upset stomach have been reported as side effects of Imitrex®. The severity of these gastrointestinal problems is frequently mild to moderate, and the symptoms tend to dissipate over time. Bloody stools and severe vomiting can be signs of a more serious complication, and they require urgent medical attention.
Mild side effects of Imitrex® include flushing and sweating. Dizziness, insomnia and muscle pain are also common. Although they might be bothersome, these side effects generally are not dangerous. Often, these symptoms will lessen over time, and additional medical treatment is generally unnecessary.
As with most medications, side effects of Imitrex® can include allergic reactions. Itchy rashes, difficulty breathing and swelling of the lips or tongue are signs of such a reaction. Allergic reactions often require immediate treatment from a physician.
When taking Imitrex® by injection, additional side effects can occur. Swelling, redness and pain at the injection site are all common. Mild bleeding and bruising can commonly occur. Icing the area can provide relief if these symptoms are irksome. These side effects are most likely related to the act of the injection itself rather than the medication.
Imitrex® can also be used as a nasal spray. Specific side effects of Imitrex® in spray form include sore throat, sinus pain and a bad taste in the mouth. The frequency of vomiting is higher in patients who use Imitrex® spray.
Patients taking Imitrex® infrequently develop serotonin syndrome. This condition can potentially cause seizures, hallucinations and death. The probability of serotonin syndrome is greatly increased when Imitrex® is taken with certain other migraine medications or some antidepressants. Patients who have been prescribed Imitrex® should tell their doctors about any other drugs they are taking.
In very rare instances, patients taking Imitrex® have had major cardiac episodes. In most of these cases, the patients have had pre-existing heart conditions. Side effects of Imitrex® that can sometimes be indicative of these very serious complications include rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations and tightness of the chest, jaw or neck.
An exceedingly rare potential side effect of Imitrex® was brought into the public spotlight in May 2008, when it was featured on the popular American television series CSI. Imitrex® contains sulphonamides, which — in high doses — can turn human blood dark green. This condition, called sulfhemoglobinaemia, generally reverses itself naturally.