Migraine headaches are believed to result from dilatation of blood vessels in the brain and are usually associated with sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. In addition, many patients experience nausea or vomiting. The headache of a migraine often involves only one side of the head but in some cases, patients may experience pain bilaterally or on both sides. The pain of a migraine is often described as throbbing or pounding and it may be made worse with physical exertion.
Selective serotonin receptor agonists, known as Triptans, stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain which cause the muscles surrounding the blood vessels in the brain to contract and narrow the blood vessels. At the same time, transmission of pain signals by nerves to the brain are reduced. While this type of medication is very effective in relieving migraine headaches, it does not prevent or reduce the number of headaches. Members of this medication class include naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), rizatriptan (Maxalt), frovatriptan (Frova), eletriptan (Relpax), and almotriptan (Axert).