Rizatriptan, also known as Maxalt, is a medication prescribed to help relieve the symptoms of migraines such as sensitivity to light and sound, severe, long lasting headaches, and nausea. Rizatriptan is classified as a selective serotonin receptor agonist. This medication narrows the brain's blood vessels, which prevents the brain from receiving pain signals. It also stops the release of bodily chemicals that cause the symptoms of a migraine. Although this medication may relieve some of the symptoms, it does not prevent migraines from occurring.
Rizatriptan is prescribed as either a tablet that must be swallowed or an orally disintegrating tablet. The medicine is given in 5 or 10 milligram doses. The orally disintegrating tablet comes in an individually wrapped package and is absorbed by placing it under the tongue and allowing it to dissolve. Because no water is required to take the medication in this manner, this method is often used by patients who have difficulty swallowing or keeping down liquids due to nausea.
This medication should generally be taken when the first symptoms of a migraine appear. If one dose does not relieve the pain within two hours, a second dose may be taken. No more than 30 milligrams of the medication should be taken within a 24-hour period, however.
Other medications or health conditions may affect the way rizatriptan reacts with the body. Smokers may have an increased risk of side effects while taking the medication. Other risk factors apply to individuals who are postmenopausal, with high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease. Men over 40 may also be at risk. Rizatriptan cannot be taken with drugs in the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) class. Those taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may receive a lower dose of rizatriptan.
Those taking this drug should avoid unnecessary exposure to bright sunlight. When outside, sunglasses, protective clothing, and sunscreen should be worn. The medication may also cause drowsiness. If this occurs, cars and heavy machinery should not be used until the medication wears off. If an individual is pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, notify a doctor before taking the drug.
Certain side effects can occur while taking rizatriptan, such as stomach pain, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and chills. Dry mouth, dizziness, numbness, flushing, and drowsiness may also occur. Serious side effects, which should be reported to a healthcare professional immediately, include difficulty breathing, chest pain or tightness, irregular heartbeat, changes in vision, rash, throat pain, and itching of the face, eyelids, or lips. In extremely rare cases, rizatriptan has caused life-threatening cardiac disturbances.