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Sumatriptan vs Zolmitriptan: How to Choose the Right Migraine Treatment

Posted Tuesday 01 September 2020 15:00 by Harman Bhamra in Migraines

Migraines can be such a nuisance to deal with. Without the proper treatment available, these ‘severe headaches’ can put you out of action for days… or even weeks. Fortunately, there are now lots of migraine relief drugs available like Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan.

This guide will compare migraine treatments Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan, helping you to establish which is best for you.

What are triptans?

Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan belong to a family of drugs called Triptans. These tryptamine-based drugs are often used in the treatment of cluster headaches and migraines.

Originally introduced in the 1990s, Triptans are classified as preventive medicines --- meaning they help relieve your migraine symptoms --- but are not designed to cure them. It’s important to note that Triptans don’t relieve other kinds of pain.

Let’s take a look at Sumatriptan and Zolmitriptan in greater detail below:


Sumatriptan is a fast-acting medication for the relief of migraine symptoms. This treatment is comparable to the branded Imigran and contains the same active ingredient called Sumatriptan Succinate.

How Sumatriptan works

Sumatriptan is not a painkiller. This medication is designed to help reverse the widening of blood vessels in the brain which are considered by doctors as one of the primary causes of a migraine.

The active ingredient in Sumatriptan stimulates the brain’s serotonin receptors causing the blood vessels in the brain to contract and return to their original size.

How to use Sumatriptan

Sumatriptan is formulated for adults 18 years old and above who are suffering from migraines. This medication can be taken with or without food. The maximum allowed dose for Sumatriptan is 300mg. This is equivalent to 3 100mg tablets or 6 50mg tablets a day.

Take Sumatriptan the moment you notice your migraine symptoms flaring up. Remember, this tablet is not a preventive medicine so it’s not advisable to take it before your symptoms start. Sumatriptan will not stop your migraine - it will only relieve you of its symptoms so you can carry on your day.

If the first dose is effective but your symptoms return later in the day, take a second dose. Make sure there is at least a 2-hour gap between each dose.

Don’t take a second dose if the first tablet is not effective. Instead, contact your GP to discuss alternative medications.

What are the side effects of Sumatriptan?

The side effects of Sumatriptan vary from one person to another. Some of the common side effects of this drug include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Short term increase in blood pressure

You can buy Sumatriptan online from Express Pharmacy.


Another popular migraine treatment is Zolmitriptan. This drug also contains the active ingredient Sumatriptan Succinate.

How Zolmitriptan works

Zolmitriptan works by stimulating a group of receptors in the brain called serotonin receptors (also known as 5HT receptors). This stimulation causes the swelling/dilating blood vessels in the brain to contract --- relieving you of the immense pressure felt during a migraine.

Aside from its tablet form, you can also get Zolmitriptan as an orodispersible and as a nasal spray. This variety of choice makes Zolmitriptan more appealing to those who have a difficult time digesting tablets.

How to use Zolmitriptan

Like Sumatriptan, Zolmitriptan is also not a preventive medication. This means that this treatment will not stop your migraine from occurring. Take Zolmitriptan as soon as your symptoms occur, but not before.

You can take Zolmitriptan with or without food. The maximum dosage of Zolmitriptan is 10mg a day. This means that you can take up to 4 weaker doses (2.5mg) or 2 stronger doses (5mg) of Zolmitriptan each day.

Take the first dose the moment your migraine symptoms flare-up. If your symptoms return later on in the day, take another dose. Make sure that there’s a two-hour window between each dose.

If the first dose is not effective, don’t take a second tablet. Instead, talk to your GP for a different form of medication.

We recommend starting with the lower strength Zolmitriptan initially. If this is not enough, you may double your dose. For best results, consult with your GP.

What are the side effects of Zolmitriptan?

Side effects of Zolmitriptan are rare but may include:

  • Flushing
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Transient increase in blood pressure

You can also buy Zolmitriptan from Express Pharmacy today.

Which is better: Sumatriptan or Zolmitriptan?

Both migraine treatments are incredibly effective at relieving symptoms. While studies show that Sumatriptan works at a quicker pace, many people opt for Zolmitriptan due to there being fewer side effects.

What Causes a Migraine?

Posted Monday 08 June 2020 11:20 by Harman Bhamra in Migraines

Migraines are a common health condition usually characterised as a severe headache. They are more prevalent among women (1 in 5 women experience migraines) than men (1 in 15 men suffer from migraines).

So, what causes migraines? In this blog post, we will outline some of the most common causes of migraines as well as provide you with a way to treat them.

The Different Types Of Migraine

Migraines can be classified into at least three major types:

  • Migraine with aura - a type of migraine where you usually see flashing lights before it begins.
  • Migraine without aura - this type of migraine comes without any warnings. This is the most common type.
  • Silent migraine - this kind of migraine has the typical symptoms of a migraine minus the headache.

Migraines come and go. Some people experience them several times a week while others pass months or years before another episode.

How Do I Know It’s A Migraine?

Most migraine symptoms appear one to two days before it develops fully. This phase is known as the prodrome stage. Some symptoms of a migraine during this period include:

  • Low mood
  • Neck stiffness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • If you have a migraine with aura, the flashing lights occur after the prodrome stage. During the aura, you may experience other symptoms such as:
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • A tingling or prickling feeling in your legs, arms, or face

After these “warning” stages, the migraine may come in full force. It is during this period where you experience the actual migraine pain (headache) that you are so familiar with. You will know it’s a migraine if you experience a headache that is:

  • Throbbing
  • Debilitating
  • Pounding
  • Pulsating
  • Perforating

Migraines can also feel like a dull, steady headache. For others, it starts out mild and becomes more severe over time especially if no migraine relief treatment is taken.

What Causes Migraines?

The real cause of migraines is still a mystery for doctors. Some studies show that it’s caused by a chemical called serotonin. This chemical is responsible for shrinking (high level of serotonin) or swelling (low levels of serotonin) the blood vessels. The swelling of blood vessels in the brain can cause pain and other problems.

With that said, age, environment, sex, family history, diet, stress, and lifestyle may all contribute in one way or another to a migraine.

What Food Can Cause Migraines?

Certain foods and beverages may cause migraines. Below is an exhaustive list:

  • aged, canned, cured, or processed meat (including bologna, game, ham, herring, hot dogs, pepperoni, and sausage)
  • aged cheese
  • alcoholic beverages (especially red wine)
  • aspartame
  • avocados
  • beans (including pole, broad, lima, Italian, navy, pinto, and garbanzo)
  • brewer’s yeast (including fresh yeast coffee cake, doughnuts, and sourdough bread)
  • caffeine (in excess)
  • canned soup or bouillon cubes
  • chocolate, cocoa, and carob
  • cultured dairy products (such as buttermilk and sour cream)
  • figs
  • lentils
  • meat tenderizer
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • nuts and peanut butter
  • onions (except small amounts for flavouring)
  • papaya
  • passion fruit
  • pea pods
  • pickled, preserved or marinated foods (such as olives and pickles, and some snack foods)
  • raisins
  • red plums
  • sauerkraut
  • seasoned salt
  • snow peas
  • soy sauce

Migraine Relief

While there’s no current cure for migraines, there are treatments which help to relieve the symptoms. Some of the common migraine relief treatments available include:


This type of medication contains an active ingredient called Sumatriptan succinate. It actively works by relieving the temporary swelling of blood vessels in the brain, relieving the pressure and thus, the migraine pain you feel. You can buy Sumatriptan from Express Pharmacy and get it delivered to your doorstep in plenty of time before your next symptoms occur.

Imigran Nasal Spray

Imigran is one of the most common branded migraine treatments. Imigran Nasal Spray also contains Sumatriptan succinate as its active ingredient. This treatment provides fast-acting relief against migraines.

Compared to its tablet-counterpart, Imigran Nasal Spray offers a more pleasant form of application. It also reduces the risk of rebound headaches which is common among patients who rely on migraine relief tablets for a long time.

What the Location of Your Headache Can Tell You

Posted Monday 27 January 2020 09:00 by Harman Bhamra in Migraines

It’s common for most people to suffer from the occasional headache, but when it comes to migraines, an estimated 1 in 7 people suffer. This guide will provide you with information on what the location of your headache can tell you, including ways to effectively treat migraines.

What Is The Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?

Both headaches and migraines are defined as ‘continuous pains in the head’. However, while the underlying symptoms may be similar, migraines are far more severe and last far longer.

The extreme pains which come from migraines initially start as a throbbing feeling (similar to a headache). From here, a migraine sufferer may begin to feel nauseous, start vomiting and become sensitive to light/sound.

What Types Of Headache Are There?

There are several different types of headaches and migraines to be aware of, and the location of the ache plays an important part in distinguishing the type. Headache and migraine pains typically occur in any of the following:

  • Face
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Eyes
  • Temples

Read on to discover what the location of your headache can tell you.

Pain Around/Behind The Eyes

Pain behind, in or around the eye can indicate that you are suffering from cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are given their name due to recurring frequently over several weeks or months, typically only on one side of the head. They can be very painful and often translate into migraines when the symptoms become more severe.

The pains from cluster headaches can move to other regions, such as…

  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Temples
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

Other symptoms of cluster headaches can include…

  • A runny or bunged-up nose
  • Nausea/sickness
  • Sensitivity to light/sounds

On average, these headaches can last from half an hour to several hours and, in some cases, can stick around for up to three days.

Please note: It is also common for cluster headaches to make the eye appear red, droopy, teary or swollen.

Pain In Your Neck

The majority of people suffering from migraines experience neck pains, yet people often dismiss the idea that they may be linked. Migraines and neck pains can be triggered by many factors, with the following being most common:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Diet
  • Alcohol

Paying attention to the above triggers and actively working to keep them under control may reduce your risk of suffering from a migraine and associated neck pain.

Tension On Your Scalp

A tension headache is generally identified by having scalp discomfort; somewhat like a tightening feeling.

Tension headaches differ from other types of headache as they can often cause pressure-like pain on both sides of your head (other head pains generally stick to one side). You may also experience pain in the following areas with a tension headache:

  • Forehead
  • Temples
  • Back of the head
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

Stress is a big factor when it comes to tension headaches, but muscle and joint pain can also trigger them, too. It is not uncommon for tension headaches to become chronic, and if this is the case, it is recommended to use specialised medication for migraine relief or prevention.

Painful Sinuses

A sinus headache is another form of a tension headache/migraine. Pain around your eyes, across your nose and around your cheeks can signify this type of headache, often giving the feeling as though constant pressure is being applied. The pain can be made more severe through exercising, sudden activity or leaning down/upside down.

These pains can be an indication of a minor sinus disease which would require a visit to the doctors, but if this is the case, you would also be experiencing…

  • Plugged Ears
  • Swollen face
  • Fever
  • Nasal mucus

How To Get Rid Of a Headache

It is always advised to seek a doctor if any head pain becomes chronic, disabling, begins to impair your vision or causes seizures.

If you suffer from consistent migraines and are seeking treatment, there are numerous options available.

Lifestyle Changes

In terms of preventing migraines, the following lifestyle changes are recommended:

  • Staying clear of high-fat or salty foods
  • Getting a full night sleep
  • Avoiding severe stress

Migraine Medication

There are also many migraine treatments that can keep everything under control. Express Pharmacy offers numerous fast-acting medication options that will help you to win your battle against migraines.

Imigran Nasal Spray allows you to treat your pain quickly, without the need for oral medication and so is beneficial to those who have difficulty swallowing pills. Imigran Nasal Spray eases pressure in your brain to aid your discomfort; this is easy to have in your bag or at work to ensure you can treat migraines as soon as they appear.

Alternatively, Sumatriptan 50mg is a more affordable method to treat your pains quickly and effectively. This medication doesn’t just stop the pain of your migraine, but it works to help reverse the changes made in your brain that cause your attacks; while simultaneously treating your symptoms.

Live a Migraine-Free Life

Headaches and migraines are often unpredictable, but by analysing the symptoms and locating the pain, you can actively work to reduce the symptoms. Get in touch with our pharmaceutical experts on 0208 123 0703 if you require more guidance.

True or False: Are These Real Migraine Cures?

Posted Friday 24 January 2020 09:44 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

Despite being such a common health concern, there are still many uncertainties surrounding migraines

Migraines impact as many as 1 billion people worldwide, making them the third most prevalent illness in the world.[1] Yet despite this, there is a lot of misinformation spread about migraines, and this can leave people confused by the condition even if they suffer from it themselves.

We’re going to take a closer look at all things migraines, exploring whether some of the most common migraine ‘cures’ stand up to scrutiny.

What are migraines?

Contrary to popular belief, a migraine is more than just a headache. It is a severe bout of head pain which is usually concentrated in one side of the head. Migraines can also cause further symptoms such as sickness, nausea and increased sensitivity to light or sound.[2]

How do migraines appear?

There is no single cause for migraines, as every case is different and comes with its own ‘triggers’. These can include lack of food, alcohol, hormonal changes, environmental changes, lack of sleep and stress, among others.[3]

In general, migraines are caused by the activation of a mechanism in the brain which releases pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.[4]

Because causes of migraines are difficult to pin down, determining concrete cures for migraines can be equally tricky.

Are these real migraine cures?

There is no cure


It is true that there is no set cure for every migraine. But this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.

Less than 5% of people living with migraines actually seek out treatment or the advice of a headache specialist.[5] So while a one-size-fits-all cure is difficult to determine, bear in mind that there are plenty of measures to put in place which may work for you.

For example, migraine patients are often suffering from co-occurring conditions such as obesity, hypertension or anxiety. In these instances, treating these conditions can alleviate migraine symptoms.[6]

Light and temperature control


Sensory sensitivity is one of the most common migraine symptoms, so it’s no surprise that reducing your exposure to harsh lights, noises and temperatures can help ease your pain. Many people find that lying down in a quiet, dark and cool space can reduce the length and severity of a migraine attack.

Creating a sleep routine


There is a clear relationship between how well you sleep and whether or not you suffer from migraines. Both sleep loss and oversleeping are common headache triggers, while regular, good quality sleep has been shown to result in fewer headaches.[7] Creating a bedtime routine you can stick to every day can be an effective way of reducing your symptoms.

Following a strict diet


While there is a relationship between food and headaches, it’s more about what you’re not eating as opposed to what you are eating. Many people like to blame their migraines on particular foods, such as chocolate, but actually the most common food-related migraine cause is failing to eat altogether. For this reason, following a strict diet can often do more harm than good. There is no migraine diet, but missing meals is a well-established migraine trigger.[8]

It changes for everyone


As we mentioned earlier, there are many migraine triggers and these can vary between sufferers. This is part of the reason why it is difficult to determine a single cure for migraines. When the cause changes, so does the cure. In order to alleviate your migraines, you need to identify your own triggers and take steps to avoid them.


There is indeed medication that is safe and effective in its treatment of migraines and cluster headaches.

Popular medication options like sumatriptan have been proven through rigorous research to be an effective means of reducing migraine symptoms. In one trial, 74% of migraine sufferers found that their symptoms had significantly decreased after 15 minutes of taking sumatriptan, compared to just 26% of placebo patients.[9]

Find safe and effective migraine relief treatment right here at Express Pharmacy. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0208 123 07 03. You can also contact us using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine statistics. 2020

[2] NHS UK. Migraine. 2019

[3] The Migraine Trust. More than “just a headache”. 2019

[4] World Health Organisation. Headache disorders. 2016

[5] Hribar, C. Migraine Statistics. 2019

[6] Rosenberg, J. Migraine has an impact on both healthcare costs and lost productivity. American Journal of Managed Care. 2019

[7] American Migraine Foundation. How Sleep Disorders Interact with Headache and Migraine. 2019

[8] Afridi, S. PhD. Food and diet. The Migraine Trust. 2016

[9] Ekbom, K. MD. et al. Treatment of acute cluster headache with sumatriptan. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1991

The Impact of Alcohol on Migraines

Posted Tuesday 01 October 2019 09:13 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

Migraines are extremely intense headaches which can also result in vision problems, dizziness and nausea. The exact cause of migraines is unknown, though they are thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity.[1]

But one theory behind migraines is that they can be caused by excessive drinking. We’re going to take a closer look at this theory.

Can alcohol cause migraines?

Although there is not enough evidence to conclusively state that drinking alcohol causes migraines, there is reason enough to find a link between the two.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you expel more fluid when you take it in, often referred to as ‘breaking the seal’. Losing fluid from your body can lead to dehydration, which is another known migraine trigger. What’s more, drinking alcohol relaxes the blood vessels, which causes increased blood flow to the brain and can make migraines more likely to occur.[2]

One 2014 study studied two groups — migraine sufferers and non-sufferers — after a night of drinking. They found that participants who suffered from migraines experienced a higher tendency of migraine-like symptoms, but no difference in other hangover symptoms compared to non-sufferers.[3]

What’s more, population-based studies in various countries such as Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the US have consistently found that fewer migraine sufferers consume alcohol than those without headaches. This is most likely explained as migraine sufferers giving up alcohol because it is triggering headaches.[4]

Alcohol as a migraine trigger

Of all alcoholic drinks, red wine is often cited as the biggest migraine trigger. Studies have shown that the odds of a person naming red wine as a migraine trigger are over three times greater than the odds of naming beer.[5]

Research does show that red wine could cause issues for people with certain sensitivities. For example, red wine contains 20-200 times the amount of histamine as white wine. Migraines can be a symptom of histamine intolerance, so people with this allergy may experience migraines as a result of drinking.

Red wine can also cause a rise in the level of serotonin in the blood, which has been linked to migraine headaches.[6]

Alcohol is also a well-known trigger of cluster headaches — a similar phenomenon to migraines characterised by pain on one side of the head. Those with a cluster headache are advised to avoid drinking alcohol until the episode has completely passed.[7]

How to reduce the severity and frequency of your migraines

Outside of alcohol, there are many other factors which have been known to trigger migraines in sufferers. These can be emotional, physical, dietary or environmental, and include:

Stress and anxiety



Bright lights


Skipping meals


Lack of sleep[8]

Addressing these problem areas can help to alleviate the intensity and frequency of your migraines. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, eating regular healthy meals and getting enough fresh air and natural light are just some of the ways people manage their migraine symptoms.[9]

Migraine medication like Sumatriptan can also be useful in reducing migraine symptoms. In fact, clinical studies showed that migraine intensity dropped by 79% in participants given 8mg of Sumatriptan, compared to just 25% in those given the placebo drug.[10]

Safe and effective migraine treatment is available from Express Pharmacy. Speak to one of our expert pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Migraine. 2019

[2] Panconesi, A. MD. Alcohol and migraine: trigger factor, consumption mechanisms. A review. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2008

[3] Zlotnik, Y. et al. Alcohol consumption and hangover patterns among migraine sufferers. Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice. 2014.

[4] Panconesi, A. MD. Alcohol and Migraine. American Migraine Foundation. 2016

[5] Mathew, PG. MD, FAAN, FAHS. Alcohol and headaches. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018.

[6] Panconesi. 2008

[7] The Migraine Trust. Cluster Headache. 2019

[8] NHS UK. Migraine Causes. 2019.

[9] The Migraine Trust. Coping and managing. 2019

[10] The Subcutaneous Sumatriptan International Study Group. Treatment of Migraine Attacks with Sumatriptan. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1991.


Michael Lancaster Smith on Monday 21 October 2019 14:01

Another physical trigger is minor head trauma.

A casual minor blow to the head is a well recognised precipitating factor which I can report from personal experience.


New Research Suggests Magnets Could Be Used to Treat Migraines

Posted Friday 15 February 2019 22:31 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

magnets for migraines

In the UK, migraines are an extremely common complaint. In fact, it is estimated that there are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in England alone, and UK-wide there are 6 million suffering with migraines. Prevalence of migraines has been reported at 5-25% of women and 2-10% of men, while it’s estimated that as many as 1 in 1,000 people live with chronic migraines.[1]

Now, however, recent research suggests that pocket-sized magnets could be used to provide fast relief from migraine symptoms. Magnets have been used in the treatment of migraines for decades, but these smaller sized versions could make the treatment more accessible.

Dr Richard Lipton, vice chair of the department of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and director of the Montefiore Headache Centre explained the effectiveness of migraines when speaking to the New York Post, saying:

“Magnets stimulate the brain. Forms of magnet therapy have been used as both diagnostic and therapeutic tools for a very long time. The challenge was building a lightweight, portable device. But now we’ve accomplished that.”[2]

The research

The trail of this new magnet treatment was completed by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. It involved the use of treatment known as single pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS), which has previously only been available in hospitals, and transferring it into a portable device.

The subject of the research was Barrington Simner, 72, from Bromley in south-east London, who suffered from migraines for more than 20 years.

Simner received sTMS in the form of a portable device placed on the back of the head for a few seconds, pressing a button to deliver a painful magnetic pulse into the brain. This works by stimulating cells in the outer surface of the brain, reducing the severity and frequency of migraines. It can be used up to eight times a day.

Describing his feelings towards the treatment, Simner commented:

“I started getting migraines when I turned 50 and over time they got progressively worse. At one point I was getting a migraine twice a week. They were completely debilitating […] I tried lots of different powerful painkillers, but the side-effects made me drowsy. sTMS is the only treatment that has worked for me.

“I’ve massively reduced the amount of painkillers I take. I am now able to volunteer, spend time gardening and enjoy life. I’m really thankful to the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for the care I’ve received. The treatment has completely changed my life.”[3]

Currently, Guy’s and St Thomas’ headache centre is the only NHS centre in the UK to offer this treatment.

Migraines are complex problems with many associated causes and symptoms

Migraines are the third most common disease in the world, with an estimated global impact of 14.7%, which works out at around one in seven people.[4] Despite this, the true cause of migraines has not yet been determined, and research into migraines is the least publicly funded of all neurological illnesses relative to its economic impact.[5]

With this in mind, it’s important to look at the research from Guy’s and St Thomas’ with a critical eye. While the results of the research into portable sTMS is promising, the experience of having a migraine is different for every sufferer, as is the treatment which works best. For many, taking steps to prevent triggers is the best solution.

For some people, lifestyle changes such as improving diet, drinking plenty of fluids, engaging in exercise and taking time away from electronic devices can all positively impact migraine symptoms. For others, effective medication is the only way to treat the condition in the long-term. For example, upon its release in the early 1990s, studies found sumatriptan to be “an effective long-term acute treatment for migraine.”[6]

Leading migraine treatments such as Sumatriptan and Imigran can be obtained quickly and easily from the NHS-approved pharmacists at Express Pharmacy. For more information, call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet live chat

[1] National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Botulinum toxin type A for the prophylaxis of headaches in adults with chronic migraine. 2011 [Accessed February 2019]

[2] Malamut, M. The next big thing in migraine pain relief is already here. New York Post. 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[3] Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust. Grandfather thanks hospital for life-changing migraine treatment. NHS UK. 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[4] Steiner, T.J. et al. Migraine: the seventh disabler. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2013 [Accessed February 2019]

[5] Shapiro, R.E., Goadsby, P.J. The long drought: the dearth of public funding for headache research. Cephalalgia, 2007 [Accessed February 2019]

[6] Pilgrim, A.J., The clinical profile of sumatriptan: efficacy in migraine. 1994 [Accessed February 2019]

Why Do Women Suffer From Migraines So Much More Than Men?

Posted Wednesday 24 October 2018 15:34 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

Research shows that women are much more frequent victims of migraines than men. But why could this be?

Migraines are a well-established and common condition affecting men, women and children alike. One in seven adults experience migraines globally. However, the distribution of attacks is far from equal. In fact, figures from the Migraine Research Foundation suggest that as many as 85% of all migraine attacks are experienced by women.

Anyone who doesn’t experience migraines would be forgiven for assuming that they are simply intense headaches. However, the reality is much more serious. Alongside a throbbing headache, many sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, light, noise and scent sensitivity and, for some, even temporary muscle weakness on one side of the body. Migraines can last for hours at a time, or even days.

And that’s not all. Around one in four migraine sufferers also experience a collection of sensory disruptions called an ‘aura’, including blind spots, tingling, numbness and light flashes. Research from the American Journal of Medicine also found that migraine auras can increase the risk of ischemic stroke in women under 50.

However, the reason so many women experience migraines compared to men remains largely a mystery.

Director in the Office of Research on Women’s at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Janine Clayton, comments: “We don’t have the answer for why migraines are more common in women than men, but women are more susceptible to every pain condition than men.

“Also, women in pain are not always taken seriously. Women are perceived as excessively seeking help.”

Migraines tend to be worst for young women, and improve with age, meaning that many women experience regular severe migraines during the period of life when they should be most productive. Symptoms like light and sound sensitivity can make it difficult to work and complete daily activities.

Professor of Neurology & Anaesthesiology and Director of the Centre of Headache and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, Mark Green, is just one of many experts who believes that fluctuating female hormones could be a major influence on migraine attacks.

Green theorises that the drop in oestrogen levels which occurs during a women’s period could be a major trigger of migraines, commenting: “Around period and ovulation, and just after a delivery, levels drop precipitously, which can be a problem.

“After menopause, when the levels of oestrogen remain low and don’t fall, most women’s migraines] improve. Oestrogen falls increase the excitability of the brain cortex. Migraine is a condition where the cerebral cortex is more ‘excitable,’ often genetically, so that is one reason why.”

Theories like Green’s are supported by the fact that, in childhood, boys experience more migraines than girls before puberty. From puberty to the menopause, migraines are far more common in women. What’s more, most migraine attacks in women tend to occur several days before or after menstruation.

However, not everyone agrees. Michael Oshinsky, programme director of pain and migraine at the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, agrees that hormones may play a pivotal role in migraines, he states that “migraine is not a hormonal disorder. That’s a mistake. Think of it as a very diverse disorder. Each patient has to be diagnosed with her own criteria. There are likely many different pathways not working properly in the brain that lead to an attack. It’s a disorder of the nerves and the brain.”

While it may not be entirely clear why women are more susceptible to migraines than men, we do know that effective migraine relief medication is available from Express Pharmacy. Call 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet live chat service to speak to a member of our team today.


Miyoshi Miller on Friday 07 December 2018 18:48

I think it has a lot to do with hormonal changes we women go through. Monthly (when were younger) it has to do with our monthly menstruation. When we get older, its menopause. Then our pituitary, triggered monthly regarding ovulation. I really don't know for sure though, just think this might be some of the reasons.


10 Facts You May Not Know About Migraines

Posted Thursday 30 August 2018 09:17 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

Migraine Awareness Week 2018 begins on 2nd September. This is a chance for people to educate themselves on this common affliction, including how to spot the signs of a migraine and how to prevent and treat a migraine effectively. To help boost your knowledge surrounding migraines, here are ten facts you may not know.

Women suffer from migraines more than men

Around three quarters of people who suffer from migraines are women. This could be to do with the cyclical nature of female hormones. One study also found that levels of NHE1 (a protein which regulates the transfer of protons and sodium ions) fluctuate a lot more in women, and NHE1 is a key component of migraine headaches.

Migraines are the world’s third most common condition

Migraines are hugely common, affecting 6 million people in the UK and 14.7% of the world’s population. This equates to around one in every seven people, or one billion sufferers. Chronic migraines are less common, affecting around 2% of people globally. This is when sufferers experience at least 15 headaches per month over a three-month period, with more than half being migraines.

Children get migraines too

It’s not just adults who have to suffer with migraines – around 10% of children experience the condition. In fact, children as young as 18 months old have been known to experience a migraine attack. However, children can also grow out of their migraines. One study found that migraine symptoms had disappeared completely in 23% of child sufferers by the age of 25.

Auras can be a warning sign for some

Less than 25% of migraine sufferers experience distorted senses, but those that do can use them as a warning sign that a migraine attack is on the way. This usually involves blotches of light and dark disrupting their vision between 10 and 30 minutes before an attack.

Triggers can be very different for different people

Migraines can be caused by wildly different factors for different patients, making it difficult for doctors to treat them effectively. Common causes include stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol, dehydration and caffeine, though spicy foods, cheese and even weather conditions have all been known to result in a migraine attack.

Temporary blindness can be a symptom

A retinal migraine is a kind of migraine limited to one eye, and can lead to symptoms such as starry vision, partial blackness or complete loss of vision. It is almost always the same eye which is affected, and sight usually returns after 10 to 20 minutes.

…So can loss of limb function

A hemiplegic migraine is a rare and scary form of the condition which can result in weakness, numbness, tingling or complete loss of function in parts of one half of the body, including an arm, leg or face. This can last anywhere from one hour to several days!

Migraines might be hereditary

Migraines can run in the family. Between 80 and 90% of migraine sufferers report having at least one family member who also lives with the condition. What’s more, one study found that if both parents experience migraines, their child’s risk of acquiring the condition increases by 75%.

Migraines may have inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

In Carroll’s iconic story, Alice drinks a beverage which makes her grow and eats food which makes her shrink. This is reflective of two potential migraine symptoms: micropsia and macropsia. One popular theory is that Carroll suffered with migraines and turned his experiences into a story. Nowadays, related symptoms are even known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Treatment is available

Many people see their migraines as something they simply have to live with, but this isn’t the case. Safe and effective migraine treatment is available from Express Pharmacy, including Imigran and its unbranded equivalent Sumatriptan. Sumatriptan has been rated 10/10 in independent customer reviews.

Click here to explore the migraine relief medication available from Express Pharmacy, You can also get in touch by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet live chat service.

From Lazy Days to Holidays: Can These Things Really Cause Migraines?

Posted Tuesday 29 May 2018 15:12 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

Nobody wants to suffer from migraines, but unfortunately they are a regular occurrence for almost 6 million people in the UK.

So if you are one of the many people dealing with this condition, here are some of the things you may not realise could be triggering your migraine attacks.

Changes in climate and temperature

Director of the John Hopkins Headache Centre in the US, Dr Nauman Tariq, says that sudden fluctuations in the weather and barometric pressure can sometimes trigger migraines. These are factors which are closely associated with flying abroad, especially to a significantly warmer country. So if you’re planning your summer holiday, make sure you prepare to stop migraines before they hit by staying cool and hydrated when flying.

Sleeping in

A lack of sleep is a well-recognised migraine trigger, but sleeping in can also be a cause for many people. Dr Susan Hutchinson of the Orange County Migraine and Headache Centre says: “Many migraine sufferers find that sleeping in on a weekend can cause them to have a migraine […] The reality is that migraine individuals should try to go to bed at the same time every evening and get up at the same time every morning including weekends.”

Your smartphone

The smartphone has become a staple asset to pretty much all of us in our daily lives, and while this generally makes things more convenient, it is also having a negative impact on our health. Using our smartphones before bed has been shown in multiple studies to reduce our sleep quality, making migraines more likely. The blue light emitted by the screen on many popular devices, including smartphones, can also act as an irritant for migraine sufferers.

Stressful events

Like lack of sleep, stress is a common and well-known migraine trigger. However, it’s also possible to experience ‘let down’ migraines in the time following a stressful event, as the adrenaline which has been getting you through the stress itself begins to dwindle. Dr Hutchinson says that “many migraine sufferers think ‘I can’t wait until this stressful time in my life is over, and I can finally relax’ only to then be hit with a horrible migraine.”

Stress relief measures like meditation, yoga and an overall healthy lifestyle can help you avoid these fluctuating levels of anxiety.


Visual patterns like the block patterns you see on some floors stimulate the occipital cortex in the brain, according to Dr David Dodick of the American Migraine Foundation. This cortex is already hyper-excitable in people who suffer from regular migraines, making these patterns a common trigger when present on rugs, bedsheets and other household décor.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a common condition that affects around 5% of the UK population. It occurs when the upper airway is blocked during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for periods of time. Because of the decrease in oxygen concentration which sleep apnoea causes, it has also been shown to lead to migraines. Luckily, the condition is treatable.

Food additives

Food-related migraine triggers often differ greatly between sufferers, but there are some foods which are widely associated with migraines, such as red wine and processed meats. Aged cheeses and fermented food like kimchi or pickles can also lead to migraines, and research has found a link between migraines and artificial sweeteners found in things like diet fizzy drinks.

The headache tree

If you’re planning your summer holiday, you may be considering a break in sunny California. Well if you are, beware! The “Umbellularia californica” [‘California Laurel’] is a tree that’s only found in the coastal woodlands of California, and has a substance in its leaves (umbellulone) which activates a receptor on pain nerve endings that trigger migraines. That’s right, this tree can cause migraines simply by touching it, so admire with your eyes only.

Effective migraine medication is available from Express Pharmacy. Contact the team today for help and advice by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet online Live Chat service.

Winter’s Last Laugh: The Migraine

Posted Thursday 08 February 2018 12:04 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

There are 190,000 migraine attacks in the UK every day, and winter only makes things worse

There’s a big difference between a migraine and a run-of-the-mill headache, as anyone who has ever experienced a migraine will know. Migraines are painful, throbbing attacks in the head which cause the UK population to lose 25 million days of work or school each year. It is the single most common neurological condition in the world, affecting around one in every seven people, but for many people migraines are far more common in winter months.

So now that the end of winter is finally in sight, it’s important to stay as safe and healthy as possible in these last few weeks before spring makes its welcome return. Let’s take a closer look at why exactly your migraine attacks are worse in winter, and what you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing migraines over the next few weeks.

Why are migraines worse in winter?

Changes provoke attacks

Sudden changes from warm to cold temperatures, or cold to warm, are known to cause head pain as your body tries to adjust to your new climate quickly. This is relevant at the start of winter when the weather first begins to get colder, but is also a significant factor throughout the season and at the end when spring approaches. Winter fluctuations in temperature tend to be more dramatic than those in summer, as some people find that simply moving from a cold street to a warm house (or vice versa) is enough to bring on a migraine.

Keeping a regular temperature in your home, and wrapping up outside, will help regulate your own temperature too. This means making sure your insulation is up to scratch, using draught excluders, and wearing a scarf, gloves and — in particular — a hat when you go outside.

You’re more likely to be dehydrated

Dehydration is a common migraine trigger, and unfortunately you’re more likely to be dehydrated in the winter than in the summer. Not only do we tend to drink less water in the winter in favour of tea and coffee, we also have to deal with winds, indoor heaters and fluctuations in barometric pressure which can all create dry air conditions.

Simply staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to avoid dehydrating migraine attacks. You can also avoid excess alcohol intake and introduce more hydrating fruits and vegetables into your diets, like red peppers and watermelon.

Less natural light, more artificial light

With winter comes shorter days, which we’re still dealing with as we watch the sun set before 5pm every day. This forces us to rely more heavily on artificial lights, even during the day when the weather is grey and dull. Long hours of harsh, bright lights are another common migraine trigger, which is why it is often advised that you lie down in a cool dark room when a migraine does strike.

Where possible, you should opt for softer lighting options and avoid staring at screens like your laptop or smartphone for long periods of time. This is particularly important in the hour before you go to bed, as exposure to bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

You’re not moving as much

When it’s cold and dark outside, we’re less likely to feel the urge to leave the house, whether it’s for a morning gym session or a Sunday walk with the family. The result of this is more time spent sitting in front of the television.

Research shows that regular exercise can help reduce migraine symptoms, with one study stating that exercising for 40 minutes three times a week can reduce migraine attacks by 25%. Even vigorous housework can get your heart rate rising enough to improve your physical fitness.

If you suffer from regular migraines and are looking for fast, effective relief, Express Pharmacy offers prescription migraine medication that can be ordered online. We even offer next day delivery options on orders placed before 12pm.

Migraine Awareness Week 2017 Starts on 3rd September

Posted Friday 01 September 2017 11:02 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

A huge 1 in 7 people live with regular migraines, leading to over 190,000 migraine attacks a day in the UK alone. This makes migraines the third most common disease in the world. It’s more prevalent than asthma, epilepsy and diabetes combined, and more than three quarters of people who have migraines experience them at least once a month.

It’s figures like these which show just how important an event like Migraine Awareness Week 2017 is, as we’re all bound to know someone who suffers from this extreme pain. We’re here to tell you a little more about migraines, and explain how to treat migraines and what you can do to get involved in this fantastic awareness event.

The information you need about how to treat migraines

You’d be forgiven for thinking that migraines are nothing more than strong headaches, but the truth is they’re a lot more severe than that. A migraine is a complex neurological disorder which is recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the most disabling lifestyle conditions, as many people suffer from migraines for years and feel the impact on their work, family and social lives. In fact, 25 million days of work or school are missed due to migraines every year in the UK. This costs £2.25 billion.

Although there is no one cause for migraines, an attack is often brought on by a range of factors including noise, light, stress, insomnia, dehydration, general inactivity and overexposure to computers and other screens. Symptoms include blurred vision, light sensitivity, nausea and insomnia alongside the obvious pressure and pain in the head.

Self-care is key to understanding how to treat migraines and make them more manageable. This includes taking the time to keep active through gentle stretches and exercises, and even activities like yoga and pilates. Adjusting light levels can also be helpful, as can reducing your temperature with a cold flannel. Many GPs advise that sufferers get into the habit of staying hydrated, and sometimes it’s even recommended that you visit a chiropractor as head pain can sometimes be linked to a spinal issue.

However, there is no definitive answer for how to treat migraines, and for some people it becomes a lifelong affliction. Yet despite how severe and debilitating migraines can be, very little is known about the disorder and awareness is low. That’s where Migraine Awareness Week 2017 steps in.

How can you get involved in Migraine Awareness Week 2017?

Migraine Awareness Week 2017 is being organised by the Migraine Trust, who work tirelessly to increase migraine awareness. They encourage those wishing to get involved in the event to explore their resources, including their social media accounts and their online quizzes and fact sheets on how to treat migraines and how to spot them.

You can also talk to family and friends about migraines. How much do they know, and do any of them suffer from the condition? What’s their experience? You can let them know about the awareness week and any upcoming events taking place.

Speaking of events, why not host your own fundraising event or even do something as simple as printing out a poster to hang in your place of work to help people stay informed on the condition? The Migraine Trust is a charity organization, so you can also make a donation so that they can continue their work into increasing awareness, reducing stigmas and providing support for sufferers and researchers trying to understand how to treat migraines once and for all.

Express Pharmacy offer advice, diagnosis and treatment on how to treat migraines from the comfort of your own home

For more information about how to treat migraines, chat to us via our online Live Chat tool, or call us today on 0208 123 0703. We can prescribe the right migraine relief medication for your situation and also advise on any lifestyle factors which may be contributing to your problem.

Why You Don’t Need to Learn to Live With Migraines

Posted Wednesday 03 May 2017 21:46 by Tim Deakin in Migraines

migraine treatmentIf you suffer from migraines, then you do not suffer alone. Migraines are an extremely common affliction, with over 190,000 migraine attacks taking place every day in the UK.

And migraines are not just simple headaches. They can be debilitating and extremely painful, and yet many sufferers resign themselves to simply learning to live with the condition.

However, there are ways to treat the condition effectively. From actions you can undertake yourself to chiropractic aid and effective medications, you shouldn’t have to put up with your migraines.

What are migraines?

It is true that migraines are a form of headaches, but they are particularly intense, often signalled by a throbbing in the front or back of the head. Whilst many of us can ignore a headache and get on with our day, the pain and pressure caused by a migraine is a primary health concern for most sufferers.

This pressure is often combined with other symptoms such as blurred vision, sensitivity to light, insomnia and nausea, making it even more debilitating.

So what causes a migraine? Migraines are extremely common and can be caused by a range of factors. These include stress, noise, light, insomnia, dehydration and the increased use of computers and other screens alongside being generally inactive.

What can you do to treat your migraines?

Self-care is key when it comes to migraine treatment. There are several things you can do to try and alleviate your symptoms.

Make sure you keep active. In modern society, jobs often require sitting in front of a screen for long stretches of time, and this can be a big contributor to migraines. Aim to get up and walk a little every 30 minutes, and take the time to rotate your head and neck slowly when sitting to release some of the tension your muscles are holding. You can also incorporate light yoga and stretching into your day before or after work to help relieve stress and strain.

Pay attention to your teeth and jaws. It may sound odd, but many of us clench our jaws or grind our teeth without realising, and this is a huge contributor to increasing pressure which can lead to tension headaches.

Keep hydrated. Aim to drink eight large glasses of water a day to avoid any head pressure caused by dehydration.

Visit a chiropractor. Taking a trip to the chiropractor can offer expert advice and allows you to work with a professional to adjust any areas of your body which may be leading to your migraines such as your neck, shoulders and back. Head pain is often linked to an issue somewhere else in your body, particularly your central nervous system. Chiropractic can treat these issues and the results are long-lasting and effective.

What medications are available?

Medication is the most instant treatment for your migraines, and there are a lot of options available. This includes sumatriptan, which aims to counter the chemical imbalance that often causes swelling and throbbing in the head.

Imigran is another effective treatment, which stimulates receptors in the brain that reduce the swelling of blood vessels relieving pressure. Both of these treatments work on alleviating your migraine within 30 minutes.

Other medications are also available, including imigran in the form of a nasal spray.

Find all of these effective medications and more at Express Pharmacy