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Ergotamines narrow (constrict) blood
vessels in the brain. It is not clear how they work to stop a migraine. These
medicines are available in different forms depending on the drug, including
tablets, nasal spray, suppositories, and injections.
Ergotamines may be used to stop or
treat symptoms of an emerging migraine.
Ergotamines have been used for many
years to treat headache pain and other symptoms associated with migraines. But
these medicines may not be as effective as other migraine medicines, such as
Dihydroergotamine can be
effective in some people who do not get relief from triptans.1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Check with your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full
list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Overuse of migraine drugs can cause rebound headaches. Rebound headaches are different from migraine headaches. They are usually triggered after pain medicine has worn off, prompting you to take another dose. Eventually you get a headache whenever you stop taking the drug. Be sure to take your migraine medicine only as prescribed by your doctor.
Ergotamines should not be taken
with triptans (such as Imitrex).
It's a good idea to avoid smoking or tobacco replacement products for several hours after taking these medicines. Smoking or other forms of nicotine can increase the side effects of ergotamines.
Ergotamines may make you more sensitive to cold weather. Dress warmly and if you need to, limit your time in cold weather.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Drugs for migraine (2011). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 9(102): 7–12.
May 14, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
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