Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional. Brands and generics both contain the same active ingredient(s) and are medically equivalent. Some brands are marketed under different names by the same manufacturing country depending on the country of origin.
Amerge (naratriptan) belongs to the triptan class of drugs, which are highly effective in alleviating migraine pain, auras, and other related symptoms. It is an abortive treatment, meaning it only works on headaches in progress; it will not prevent new headaches from developing. Other medications, such as beta-blockers like propranolol, may help reduce the frequency of migraines. Note, however, that these other medications are not always compatible with triptans; always check with a doctor or pharmacist before mixing treatments.
Amerge is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it narrows blood vessels in the brain (and elsewhere) which become swollen during migraine and cluster headaches. It is unclear why these blood vessels swell during headache episodes and why exactly constricting them alleviates pain and other symptoms, but it does work---triptan medications are the go-to treatment in most parts of the world when over-the-counter pain treatments, like ibuprofen or aspirin, do not provide sufficient relief.
How to Use Amerge
It's important to note that because of the way Amerge works, constricting swollen blood vessels, it will not be effective on other types of headaches. If taking Amerge does not alleviate any symptoms when taken during a headache, there's a good possibility that the headache is not actually a migraine, though in rare cases some individuals simply do not respond to a particular medication.
Amerge comes in 1 mg or 2.5 mg tablets. Most patients are started on 1 mg doses, though severe migraines may require 2.5 mg doses.
To treat a migraine:
Effects usually start to be felt in about 30 minutes, and relief should be substantial within an hour. The medication peaks about 2 hours after administration and then begins to gradually decline.
Many patients find their headache will be completely gone within an hour of taking Amerge; others find symptoms do not completely disappear but are minimized to such an extent that routine activities can resume. If symptoms are not substantially reduced, it's worth consulting a doctor about other options---there are many other treatments out there and it's quite likely a solution can be found.
A Word on Cluster Headaches
Triptan medications are one of very few treatments that provide significant relief for the notoriously difficult-to-treat cluster headaches. However, method of administration is a critical component in the majority of cluster headache cases, and tablets like this product are generally too slow-acting to provide substantial relief. Patients who suffer from cluster headaches usually have better results with faster-acting formulations, such as nasal sprays or injections. A few options are:
Patients who experience particularly severe migraines may also find fast-acting formulations to be more effective in alleviating symptoms.
Before Using Amerge
Amerge is unlikely to produce serious side effects if used as directed. However, there are some scenarios in which it may not be the best choice, particularly if there is a history of:
There is a concern for side effects when this or any triptan is mixed with other medications. Of particular concern are drugs in the SSRI, SNRI, or MAOI categories (usually prescribed to treat mental disorders), other vasoconstrictors like ergotamine, and recreational drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine that may significantly increase blood pressure. Speak with a doctor or pharmacist about the safety of mixing medications before doing so.