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Sumatriptan vs Zolmitriptan: How to Choose the Right Migraine Treatment

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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.