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Only those who have suffered a migraine truly understands what it's like and it is infuriating to hear someone else refer to a bad headache as a migraine. A migraine can wipe you out completely for around 48 hours and only affects around 15% of the UK's population, however that still translates into around 6 million people.
A migraine is so much more than a headache. The symptoms vary from person to person. Mine begin with a tingling in my hands that spreads up my arms making them go numb, meaning I can't pick things up. Then it spreads to my tongue meaning that I can't talk. After that, my vision starts to go in a way that can only be compared to a horse with blinkers on with patchy white dots and bright zig zag lines covering the area in front of that I can still see. Then I lose the ability to understand things. A simple question like, 'Are you ok?' will be incomprehensible to me.
Only then does the headache start and it feels like you've been smashed over the head with a hammer. After that the sickness begins and my legs go partly numb so that I can't walk properly. To those around me, it probably looks like I've been drinking Vodka for the past few hours!!
My symptoms can continue for 24 hours and even when they've gone, I feel as if I've gone ten rounds in a boxing ring. It is all so disorientating that I have had my train pull up on a platform right next to me and I haven't seen or heard it and then I've watched it pull away without understanding that I needed to get on.
And that is the scariest thing about migraines. They can start at anytime and any place. Luckily for me, they only happened about once a year but when you are at a station alone at 11pm, four hours from home and that one migraine starts, it is still too much for me. And worrying about one starting when you are in a dangerous situation for it to start, can be the thing to trigger it in the first place. I used to take Migra-lieve but I found that only took the edge off the symptoms, rather than removing them.
I saw an advert for Imigran back in 2008 which is a medicine that was previously only prescribed but is now available over the counter. I went to Boots immediately to get it. Before being given the tablets, you will need to fill in a questionnaire either at the counter or you can print it off online from the Imigran website to save you time when you get there. This is because of the strength of the medicine and also because, as with all medications, it may not be suitable for everyone.
You need to be in between the ages of 18 and 65 in order to take the medication. The questions that you need to answer are mainly in regard to the pattern of your migraines and the symptoms that you get. You only need to complete the questionnaire once as they give you a little card for you to keep, saying that you are suitable for the medication, so the next time you go you'll just need to show that.
Inside the box, there is a white plastic container so that you can carry the tablets with you in case of an emergency. It flips open easily but never comes open in my handbag. Inside the pack there is an information containing a million different circumstances where you shouldn't take these tablets such as if you have epilepsy or if you've ever had a stroke. There is no need to worry though because if you are not suitable for taking the tablets, then you will not be given them in the first place. But you shouldn't share these tablets with other family members unless they have completed the questionnaire too.
What causes a migraine? The cause of a migraine sounds like something from a horror film. It is when the blood vessels around the brain widen and swell up and your sensory nerve ending become stimulated meaning bright lights, noise and even smelling something becomes painful. A drop in levels of Serotonin contributes to all this happening.
What triggers a migraine? The triggers will vary between person to person. For me, the trigger is usually emotional. Mine are triggered by stress that is above and beyond what I am used to, which thankfully doesn't happen that often. And also when I am completely over excited, like when Wales won the Grand Slam in 2008. (Sad I know but it doesn't happen that often!) For my father, it is environmental and it is triggered by flickering or flashing light. It can even be triggered by some foods and the most common culprits are cheese, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol. The key is finding what your trigger is and avoiding it at all costs.
How does Imigran work? The key ingredients in this medication is Sumatriptan which acts like Serotonin and therefore corrects the chemical imbalance in the brain. The medication also reduces the swelling of the blood vessels and calms the sensory nerves and symptoms begin to disappear.
How do you use the product? You take the tablet as soon as you feel a migrane starting and you are sure that it's not just going to be a normal headache. Most migrane sufferers will have a pattern. For me, it's when pins and needles start to make their way from my hands up my arms and then they go numb. (Incidently this makes the tablet quite hard to pick up, hehe!)
If the symptoms have improved but returned within two hours, you need to take the second one. However if there has been no improvement, the second one won't work either so there's no point taking it. Luckily this has not happened to me yet. In fact, I've never even needed to take the second tablet. Symptoms should begin to go within 30 minutes and be completely gone within two hours.
You will spend around £7 to get this product and there are only two tablets in the pack so if you get migraines regularly, it may be more economical and important to go to the doctors instead. It is expensive, but it works, and if you are a migraine sufferer, then this will actually be a small price to pay. The medication can be bought over the counter in leading pharmacies such as Boots or Lloyds.
Since I first bought this product, back in 2008, I have only had one migraine and that was because I had run out of Imigran and forgotten to get more. The fact that I know I'm going to be ok because I have them with me, stops me worrying and triggering a migraine in the first place, because I know that they are going to work if I need them.
When I feel the tingling in my fingers start, I take the tablet and apart my eyesight still going a bit strange, none of the other symptoms come. This medication has completely changed my life and I can't recommend it to fellow sufferers enough.
I live in Perth, Western Australia and have been reading your reviews on Imigran as I am visiting the UK in July, 2010.
I am astounded at the comments that the drug is so expensive in the UK if bought over the counter, as it is considerably cheaper than what I pay in Australia, and am wondering if we could possibly be talking about the same product - or a derivative of it?
I am a regular migraine sufferer since the age of 7 years and am now 62 and discovered the wonder drug of Imigran in about 1992. Within what seemed 10 minutes to me, after having taken the tablet, under supervision in the doctor's surgery - I felt the pain being siphoned from my head. I couldn't believe it. It was an absolute miracle for me and I have continued to use it ever since with huge success.
The problem I have with it, is the price and it is only available on prescription in Australia and not over the counter. The discounted price for 4x 100mg tablets is 41 B.P. (AUD$70.00).
I usually only need a 50mg dose and break the 100mg tab in half. It is cheaper this way. I am hoping that we are comparing the same product.
When I visit the UK can I access the over- the- counter tablets to supplement my own prescription which I carry in my wallet - as it seems a more economical way to go?
Can anybody give me some advice on this please as to whether there is a huge amount of difference between the tablets on offer and whether a tourist can pick them up the same as anybody else?
I honestly don't know how I managed before Imigran!
I have suffered with frequent migraine for years - thankfully not the visual disturbance kind, and went through a wide range of treatments - preventative and painkilling. None really solved the problem - and I seemed to experience the full range of side-effects with them too!
When Imigran first came on the scene, various friends raved about it so I asked the doctor for some. What a revelation! If I take one at the onset of what I can tell is going to be a real nasty, within half an hour my head's back to normal. Best taken early on, but I still find they work on me even when it's a full-blown migraine. I do get side-effects - some nausea and a definite 'floaty' feeling - but nothing major, and so much better than the throbbing agony that's the alternative!
The drug is sumatriptan, and the main thing to note is that it's not a painkiller. It works by widening blood vessels, so it removes the cause of the pain rather than masking it. What this means in practice is that if your headache is not a migraine then these will not work!
I get mine on prescription, but I have used the over-the-counter ones when I've run out (always seems to happen over a bank holiday weeked or similar!) You have to fill in a form so the pharmacist can check they are suitable. You also only get two - and they are half the strength of my prescription so I have to take both, which make over-the-counter a very expensive alternative. (I've seen them priced anything up to £8 and always more than £5.) I really can't understand why anyone would buy them this way unless they've run out of their prescription, or they want to try them once before asking the doctor for them. There are various types available now too, so if one doesn't suit others might. For example, I get a version which acts faster (called Imigran Radis) - it does work faster but I'm more likely to get the side-effects and also more likely to need to repeat the dose the next day. Worth it to me for the speed it gets to work though!
So, I'd definitely 100% recommend these, but would also advise getting them on prescription if you need them regularly, unless you've got a lot more money than me ;-)
Once an infrequent migraine sufferer brought on by extreme tiredness, I became a frequent sufferer last October following a medically managed miscarriage. This culminated in a large migraine lasting 4 days, with nausea and then ultimately sickness back in June. On this last incident I went to the doctors and was prescribed Imigran, the brand name of sumatriptan succinate.
Tablet and Pack Sizes and Price
Imigran is available in two sizes 50mg and 100mg sizes. Each box contains 6 tablets. I am aware that following a short questionnaire at the chemist you can be assigned a card to obtain the tablets over the counter without the need for a perscription. I am not aware how much it costs to buy the tablets in this manner but my box of 6 with 100mg tablets in was £7.20 (the perscription charge). I also have a repeat perscription set up with the Doctor - so I don't need to register for a card at the chemist.
How to take them / How do they work
Migraines can be caused by the temporary widening of blood vessells in the head. Imigran is believed to reduce the widening of these blood vessels. This in turn takes away the headache and relieves other symptoms of a migraine attack, such as feeling or being sick and sensitivity to light and sound.
So this is why painkillers don't work if you have a migraine - you need a tablet that can widen the blood vessels in the brain.
Taking them is not as straightforward as 1 tablet 3 times a day. Imigran works best if taken as soon as you feel a migraine coming on (1 tablet - taken with water), although you can take it at anytime during an attack. Please note this is not a preventative medication and should not be used in this way.
If the symptoms start to come back, you can take a second Imigran tablet if at least 2 hours have passed since the first tablet. However you cannot take more than 300mg in total in 24 hours.
BUT if the first tablet has no effect DO NOT take a second tablet or any other Imigran preparation for the same attack. However Imigran can still be used for your next attack.
Who can and can't use Imigran
Those who cannot use Imigran are: those who are allergic to sumartriptan or any of the other ingredients, if you have a heart problem, if you have circulation problems in your legs, if you have had a stroke, if you have serious liver disease. If you have high blood pressure or take anti-depressants or other migraine preparations your Doctor will need to advise if you can use this product.
Children cannot use Imigran.
Your Doctor will also need to know other risk factors such as:
If you are a heavy smoker
If you are a man aged over 40
If you are a woman who has been through the menopause
If you have a history of fits
If you have liver or kidney disease
If you have an intolerance to some sugars
If you are allergic to antibiotics called sulphonamides
Other important points:
Using Imigran too often may make your headaches worse - in these cases you must inform your Doctor
If you experience any pain or tightning in the chest you must inform your Doctor
Pregnancy and breast feeding - you need to discuss using this product with your Doctor in the first instance
Driving and using machinery - this product may make you drowsy - if affected do not drive or operate machinery.
Like all medications there can be side effects and these are listed in the leaflet that comes with the tablets and you should always read and inform yourself of this fully before taking any tablets.
For me: for the first attack I got to use Imigran on it was effective - but as I didn't have the tablets from the offset this meant that I had to taken subsequent tablets. The cumulation of taking the tablets for myself did bring on sickness, and now to accompany the Imigran my Doctor has prescribed Buccastem 3mg tablets to counter the sickness, with the theory that I take one of these (which disolves under your top lip) 20 minutes before taking the Imigran.
Since being prescribed the Buccastem I have not had cause to use them, and have only had one bad migraine since the bad one back in June, which I opted to take Imigran on its own for and only need one tablet on this occassion (success).
Without doubt migraine is a painful phenomena, I am personally glad I saw my Doctor about this in the end (over what I considered to be a bad head) and I am glad that he is in charge of ensuring what I get prescribed in terms of medication for this rather than me dealing with the Chemist directly over the counter.
I've suffered with migraines since I was about 10 years old (so for 14 years). I don't get the more severe aura migraines but I do get a lot of them (it used to be 2 per week). I'm on various types of preventative medicines from my doctor and I also have a prescription medicine for curing my migraines. I'm quite forgetful and so often don't have my tablets when I get a headache, usually because I've forgotten to order the prescription!
I've always been skeptical about over the counter migraine medicine because the other ones I've tried haven't even touched them. I was very skeptical when I heard about these but the doctor recommended them to me so I thought I'd give them a go.
WHAT IS A MIGRAINE?
Well no one really knows for sure. Scientists have no definite answers but they believe that the blood vessels in the head contract or expand and this causes the pain. There is no cure, but some people grow out of them. There are also some known trigger causes such as cheese, red wine, and chocolate. I don't have any food triggers but I do get them if I have stress/ strong smells/ too much sun/ too much sleep / too little sleep (yes, honestly, I do have a life as well!!).
AVAILABILITY AND PRICE:
These tablets are only available from the pharmacist. Before you can buy them you have to fill in a form which asks about how often you get migraines and other medication etc. Once you have filled this in once they have it checked by the pharmacist and then they give you a little certificate so you don't have to fill it in every time. I got mine from Boots and the form only took a couple of minutes. They cost £7.99 for two tablets so they are very pricey, but if you need these for migraine you should really be on prescription which would make it cheaper (or free if you live in Wales like me!).
Taken from the Imigran website:
'Imigran Recovery acts on the root cause of the migraine itself to relieve the four most common symptoms; headache, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound.'
The tablets contain sumatriptan as its active ingredient. The triptans are a major treatment of migraine. My normal prescription medicine is another form of triptan.
The tablets come in a cardboard box. Inside are the instructions and a blister pack with two tablets inside. There is also a plastic case to carry the tablets in.
HOW TO TAKE IT:
You should only take these tablets once the headache has actually started, its not preventative. You also need to be between 18 and 65 for them to give you this medicine. There are various illnesses and conditions that don't go with Imigran so make sure you read the info sheet (ok , lecture over, I know you're all sensible enough to do this!).
I only needed one of the tablets to get rid of my migraine but sometimes I get a more severe migraine which might need more treatment. You can take another one after two hours but that's it for 24 hours so it really needs to work! You also can't take it with other triptan medication and this was my big worry, although that's not an issue now I know it works!
I had been very worried about taking one of these because once you have taken one you can't take other migraine medicine for the same headache. I was scared that if I took one because I'd forgotten my main tablets in work, it wouldn't work and then as I wouldn't be able to take my other tablets I'd be stuck with the headache for three days. However, yesterday I had a really bad migraine in work and after searching through my bag, couldn't find anything other than these. As I had a parent's evening to do last night I knew I wouldn't last so needed to take something. I decided that it was worth the risk, and I'm really glad I took it!
The tablet was easy to swallow. Once I had taken it, it took around half an hour for the effects to kick in. I felt the headache leaving me - ah the relief!! The tablets worked very much like my prescription ones - which I was sort of expecting as they are from the same family of drugs, but was surprised just how similar they were.
There were some side effects with the tablet, but they were the same ones that I get with my normal tablets. My throat went dry and felt a bit tight. I also felt a bit dizzy at one point. I'm used to the side effects now and I'd take them over the migraine any day - but they might come as a shock to someone who's never taken this type of drug before.
The headache went and didn't come back so I was really impressed. I can't really comment on whether the tablets treat the other symptoms like nausea and light sensitivity as I don't get these.
Most definitely. I really can't believe that I've found a drug that I can buy over the counter that actually treats my migraines. I don't know how they would do with aura migraines but they certainly did the trick with mine. They are expensive but for me they're a godsend. The stress of thinking that I'd have to wait two days for a prescription has left me now so I'm a happy bunny!
Imigran Recovery is used to treat migraine.These tablets contain sumatriptan, which belongs to a group of medicines called triptans.Migraine symptoms may be caused by the temporary swelling of blood vessels in the head due to a temporary imbalance in the body's natural chemicals.Imigran Recovery tablets are believed to work on this imbalance and reduce the swelling of these blood vessels / Imigran helps to take away the headache and other symptoms of a migraine attack such as feeling sick (nausea) and sensitivity to light and sound.