Review of Maxalt Medication for Migraines

Maxalt Administration, Side Effects, Drug Interactions, and Contraindications

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Maxalt (rizatriptan) is a triptan, which is a prescription medication used to alleviate moderate to severe migraine attacks. Triptans may also be used to treat milder migraine attacks that do not respond to more simple analgesics, like ibuprofen, or combination analgesics, like Excedrin (acetaminophen/aspirin/caffeine).

Let's learn more about Maxalt, including how it can be taken, medication interactions, and possible side effects.

How is Maxalt Administered?

Maxalt is available in a tablet form, which can be swallowed, or an oral disintegrating tablet, which dissolves on your tongue. The oral disintegrating tablet may be appealing to those who have difficulty swallowing pills. 

It's best to take Maxalt at the onset of a migraine — this is when it's most effective. 

Who Cannot Take Maxalt?

While an effective anti-migraine medication, certain people should not take Maxalt. This is why your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history before prescribing Maxalt for your migraines.

Maxalt is contraindicated in the following health conditions:

  • presence or risk factors for coronary artery disease, including a history of a heart attack
  • uncontrolled hypertension
  • basilar or hemiplegic migraines
  • serious kidney or liver impairment
  • allergy to or strong sensitivity to rizatriptan

Can Maxalt be Taken During Pregnancy and While Breastfeeding?

If you are taking Maxalt and are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, it's important to talk with your doctor.

Maxalt is a pregnancy category C. This means that it's not known whether it will harm an unborn baby and is therefore not routinely used during pregnancy.

In terms of breastfeeding, there is limited scientific evidence on the safety of triptans. It's important to talk with your doctor if you are breastfeeding and considering taking Maxalt.

If breastfeeding, it's likely your doctor will recommend a different medication, like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen for your migraines.

Can I Take Maxalt if I'm on Other Medications?

Since Maxalt and other triptans do interact with some medications, it's important you provide your doctor with a complete list of all prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter supplements and vitamins. 

For example, Maxalt should not be taken with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Likewise, it should not be taken if an ergot-based medication like dihydroergotamine (D.H.E., Migranal Nasal Spray) is taken within the last 24 hours.

In addition, the combination of Maxalt with an antidepressant, like a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), can rarely cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome

What are the Possible Side Effects of Maxalt?

It's important to speak with your doctor if any side effects you experience from taking Maxalt are new, bothersome, or persistent. 

Here are some of the common side effects: 

  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • heaviness, tightness, or pressure in chest, neck, and/or jaw
  • increased or pounding heartbeat
  • sensations of burning on the skin and numbness or tinging, especially of the face
  • flushing
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • drowsiness

What Does This Mean for Me as a Migraineur?

Maxalt, like other triptans, is a good choice for migraine therapy. It's generally well-tolerated and effective for those who are candidates. Like other analgesics, it's advised that you limit Maxalt use to less than twice a week to prevent the onset of a medication overuse headache. 

Sources:

American Headache Society. Triptan Therapy for Acute Migraine. Retrieved November 24th 2015. 

FDA. (2007). Maxalt (Rizatriptan Benzoate). Retrieved November 24th 2015.

Loder E. Triptan Therapy in Migraine. N Engl J Med 2010;363:63-70.

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