Can you take sumatriptan with paracetamol, ibuprofen, or alcohol?

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When taken to combat the effects of a migraine, sumatriptan is a powerful and popular pain reliever. Most commonly available in the UK as oral tablets or nasal spray, the medication cannot prevent the onset of a migraine, but can relieve symptoms related to cluster headache pain, nausea, and light sensitivity. 

Often sold under the brand name Imigran, sumatriptan belongs to a class of medications known as 5HT (Serotonin) receptor agonists, and works by narrowing blood vessels to the brain. This prevents pain signals from being delivered, effectively stopping the discomfort associated with a migraine. Sumatriptan also decreases the activity of the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for transmitting pain impulses from the brain to the central nervous system.

Because of the effectiveness of the medication, sumatriptan is a popular choice for men and women who suffer from the occasional onset of a cluster headache or migraine. However, concern has been raised regarding the safety of taking sumatriptan whilst drinking alcohol or mixing with other drugs such as ibuprofen (commonly sold under the brand name Advil) or paracetamol (Tylenol). 

Let’s examine the risks associated with drug interactions and discover the truth behind the safety of taking sumatriptan with other drugs.

Sumatriptan and paracetamol

Taking sumatriptan and paracetamol at the same time is perfectly safe.

Combining the two medications may alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with a migraine faster than taking sumatriptan alone, as paracetamol accelerates the effectiveness of some drugs. Whilst the medications work in different ways, the combination of the two can be of added benefit, versus taking each drug alone. .

Paracetamol reduces the production of prostaglandins in the body, helping to fight inflammation and ease discomfort. Sumatriptan controls pain signals. Together, these two medications may offer the fastest and most comprehensive relief from migraines or cluster headaches.

Sumatriptan and ibuprofen

Taking sumatriptan and ibuprofen together is also safe practice. Each drug works in different ways. Sumatriptan will help to control the pain signals, whilst ibuprofen acts as an anti-inflammatory.

When contrasted against the effects of a single pain treatment, the combination of sumatriptan and ibuprofen may offer even greater pain relief, without adding unwanted side effects. Some studies suggest that this multitarget approach is more effective than a single medication protocol for pain management.  

In order to find the most impactful drug combination – and avoid a potentially negative drug interaction – consult your doctor or medical professional.

Sumatriptan and alcohol

There is no direct interaction between sumatriptan and alcohol. Alcohol will not alter the way that sumatriptan works. However, migraines can often be triggered by alcohol.

Alcohol consumption may exacerbate the persistence of a migraine, and accelerate side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, or nausea. Suffering from the sharp pain associated with a migraine or headache offers enough discomfort – enhancing these symptoms by drinking is not advised.

Sumatriptan and co-codamol

Co-codamol contains a mixture of paracetamol and codeine. Offering relief from mild to moderate pain, co-codamol may be taken in tandem with other pain medications to alleviate migraines, headaches, or muscular pains.

Taking co-codamol with or after sumatriptan is safe, and there is no interaction between the two drugs.

In the UK, the supply of sumatriptan is limited to avoid the risk of users taking too much. Side effects, such as medicine overuse headaches, can result from taking the drug too frequently. Although sumatriptan isn’t addictive, general best practice is to limit usage of the medication to two times per week. 

Similarly, the opiate codeine sulphate contained in co-codamol is subject to exacerbating side effects if taken in excess. Since the combination of sumatriptan and co-codamol is a powerful drug treatment protocol, we recommend discussing this option with your doctor before trying it for yourself.

Interactions with other medication

Although the combination of sumatriptan and some pain medication is considered to be a safe treatment protocol, you should always err on the side of caution when taking multiple drugs or prescription medication.

Sumatriptan is classified as a triptan, or serotonin receptor agonist. Mixing the drug with other triptans such as zolmitriptan, sumatriptan, or naratriptan can increase the risk of a rare side effect commonly called ‘serotonin syndrome.’ For this reason, taking more than one migraine medication at once should be avoided.

If you’re taking a combination of sumatriptan and other medications and notice the onset of confusion, muscle twitching, sweating, or racing heartbeat, consult your doctor or medical professional immediately.

The bottom line

When taken correctly, the combination of sumatriptan and paracetamol, ibuprofen, or co-codamol can offer comprehensive relief from the pain associated with a migraine. Mixing alcohol with sumatriptan should be avoided, as well as other medications that treat migraine symptoms. 

To learn more about how sumatriptan can help combat the adverse effect of a migraine headache, check out this handy guide. When you're ready, click through our reviews page to learn more about how fellow users have found their experience with this popular migraine treatment.

Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.