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Pizotifen

Pizotifen is used to prevent the occurrence of migraines and cluster headaches. These are much stronger than a normal headache and can affect a person’s quality of life. Pizotifen is suitable for adults and children over seven years of age.

What is Pizotifen?

Pizotifen can prevent migraines and cluster headaches in people who regularly suffer from these extremely painful conditions. A migraine is a severe, throbbing headache that starts on the side or front of the head and can last for several hours. It is often accompanied by sickness and sensitivity to sound and light. A cluster headache is a recurring severe headache that appears as a sudden sharp pain on one side of the head or around the eye area. It can last from 15 minutes to three hours, occur several times a day and often return for many weeks or months. Cluster headaches are part of the group known as vascular headaches, which occur when the blood vessels in the brain swell or dilate. A migraine or cluster headache can affect a person’s quality of life as it is almost impossible to function when they occur. Pizotifen works by reducing the size of the blood vessels in the brain, as when they expand it is believed this causes a migraine or severe headache. However, the cause of migraines and cluster headaches is not yet completely understood.

The brand name sometimes used for pizotifen is Sanomigran, but it is also prescribed under the name Pizotifen, which is the active ingredient. This medication must be prescribed by a doctor and cannot be bought over-the-counter.

When is Pizotifen used?

Pizotifen is used when a person suffers from recurrent migraines or cluster headaches. These will be diagnosed by a doctor and the person will get to know the signs of their condition. This medication can only be used to prevent migraines and cluster headaches and will not stop them once they start.

Migraines cannot be cured but can be prevented and treated. The exact cause of this painful condition is not known but it is believed to be due to short-term changes in the chemicals, blood vessels and nerves of the brain. Migraines can occur in adults and children (pizotifen is only suitable for children aged seven years and over).

People who suffer from migraines sometimes learn to avoid the triggers that can cause them, such as:

  • Certain foods or drinks, such as cheese, chocolate, processed foods, coffee and alcohol;
  • Some food additives;
  • Stress;
  • Environment, such as loud noise or bright lights;
  • Strong smells including perfume and cigarette smoke;
  • Certain medicines;
  • Not getting enough sleep;
  • Changes in the weather due to pressure alterations;
  • Women starting their period due to a fluctuation in the hormone oestrogen.

Migraines can last for several hours and often the only way a person can deal with them is to lie down in a dark room and try to rest. The symptoms are:

  • Pain on one or both sides of the head (often throbbing);
  • Feeling or being sick;
  • Being sensitive to light or sound.

There is also another kind of migraine, known as an aura migraine. There are different symptoms for this including;

  • Seeing flashing lights and spots in front of the eyes;
  • Temporary loss of vision;
  • Pins and needles.

Pizotifen can also be used to prevent this kind of migraine.

Cluster headaches come in short, sharp, strong bursts of pain usually on one side of the head and around the eye. This kind of headache gives little or no warning and starts very quickly. It can last for between 15 minutes and three hours and can occur several times a day. Triggers include drinking alcohol and strong smells such as perfume or paint. It is believed that cluster headaches may be genetic and they tend to occur at the same time of day and even the same time of year. They often occur during the night after a person has gone to sleep. Symptoms of cluster headaches include:

  • Intense pain on one side of the head, in or around the eye;
  • Red eye;
  • Tears;
  • Runny nose;
  • Swelling in the eye area.

Because cluster headaches come and go so quickly, common painkillers are not suitable for treating them as they are slow to take effect. Pizotifen can work as a preventive remedy for people who regularly suffer from cluster headaches.

How do you use pizotifen?

Take pizotifen tablets to prevent migraines and cluster headaches – they cannot be used to treat them once they begin. However, you can take ordinary painkillers alongside pizotifen if a migraine or cluster headache begins while you are taking this medication, but you should do this on the advice of a doctor.

Take pizotifen daily according to the dose prescribed by your doctor. It is recommended to take the daily dose before going to bed, but you can divide the dose over the day if you prefer. You should take pizotifen tablets at approximately the same time each day. They should be swallowed with a glass of water – do not chew pizotifen tablets.

Do not drink alcohol if you are taking pizotifen as the combination of the two can make you feel dizzy and/or drowsy. If you forget to take a pizotifen tablet, take it as soon as you remember unless it is almost time for the next dose. If you are due to take another dose soon, leave out the missed dose and take the next dose as usual at the correct time. Do not take a double dose of pizotifen to make up for a missed dose as this can be dangerous.

If you are sick after taking pizotifen, you can take another tablet if less than 30 minutes have passed since you took the first tablet. If more than 30 minutes have passed since you took a pizotifen tablet and then you are sick, you should not take another tablet as the first will already have started to be absorbed into your system. If more than 30 minutes have passed, you should wait until the correct time to take the next dose.

You should not stop taking pizotifen tablets suddenly as withdrawal symptoms can occur such as feeling sick, anxiety, tremors and sleeplessness. Stopping this medication quickly can also cause your migraines to get worse. When it is time to stop taking pizotifen, you should talk to your doctor who will give you a plan of how to stop taking your medication to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

What dosages are there?

Pizotifen tablets come in two strengths: 0.5 mg and 1.5 mg. The usual dosages are below, however you should follow the advice of your doctor as they may prescribe you a different dose depending on your individual situation. It is possible to be prescribed up to a maximum of 4.5 mg per day and up to 3 mg can be given as a single daily dose for adults. Usual dosages:

  • Adults: 1 x 1.5 mg a day, or three equal doses of 0.5 mg;
  • Children seven years of age and over: up to a total daily dose of 1.5 mg taken in three equal doses of 0.5 mg.

What are the side effects of Pizotifen?

As with all medicines, Pizotifen may have some side effects, although of course not everyone will experience them.

The most common side effects are:

  • increased appetite;
  • weight gain;
  • feeling nauseous;
  • sleepiness or drowsiness;
  • fatigue;
  • dizziness;
  • dry mouth.

If you experience any of the above side effects and feel concerned, it is advisable to discuss this with your doctor, who may adjust your dose of Pizotifen.

When should you not use Pizotifen?

You should not take Pizotifen if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the package leaflet, are under seven years of age, or have glaucoma or epilepsy. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor before taking Pizotifen tablets as they are not usually prescribed for breast feeding women.

This medication can make you feel dizzy and drowsy. If it affects you in this way, you should not drive or operate machinery. If you are lactose-intolerant, you should advise your doctor before taking this medication. Drinking alcohol is not advised when taking Pizotifen as it can trigger or increase its side effects.

Does Pizotifen interact with other medication?

It is possible that Pizotifen tablets may interact with other medicines you are taking, including herbal medicines. You may feel drowsy or dizzy or have other side effects if you take Pizotifen in combination with:

  • Alcohol;
  • Certain anti-depressants;
  • Antihistamine medications (including for the common cold and flu);
  • Medicines to help you sleep;
  • Strong painkillers such as codeine, morphine or tramadol;
  • Medicines to lower blood pressure;
  • Certain barbiturates.

If you are taking any of the above or other medicines, your doctor will decide if it is safe for you to take Pizotifen.

Where can you buy Pizotifen?

You can get Pizotifen tablets from a pharmacy, but only with a doctor’s prescription.

Can I get Pizotifen without a prescription?

No, you must have a prescription from a doctor for Pizotifen tablets.

Sources:

Cluster headache. (N.D.) Retrieved 28 November 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cluster-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20352080

Medicines for Children. Pizotifen to prevent migraine headaches. September 18, 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2019 from https://www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk/pizotifen-prevent-migraine-headaches

Migraine. 20 May 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019 from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/migraine/

Package leaflet. Pizotifen 0.5mg and 1.5mg tablets. April 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2019 from https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/docomimg2.s3.amazonaws.com/leaflets/en/patient_information_leaflet-4404-pizotifen-uk.pdf- 1510756510.pdf

Stewart, M. Pizotifen tablets. 28 May 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019 from https://patient.info/medicine/pizotifen-tablets

Sanomigran (pizotifen). 29 September 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2019 from https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/brain-nervous-system/a7505/sanomigran-pizotifen/

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