Ergotamines for Cluster Headaches
Dihydroergotamine can also be given through a vein (intravenous, or IV) or by an injection in the muscle (intramuscular, or IM) for emergency treatment of a severe cluster headache.
How It Works
Ergotamine narrows blood vessels in the head (vasoconstriction), which relieves pain by reducing pressure on pain-sensitive structures in the head and scalp that may be associated with cluster headaches. This drug may also affect certain brain chemicals that affect how a person feels pain.
Why It Is Used
Dihydroergotamine and ergotamine are used to stop a cluster headache. Ergotamine may also be used to prevent cluster headaches during a cluster cycle.
How Well It Works
When taken at bedtime or several hours before going to sleep, ergotamine is especially useful for preventing headaches at night.1
The nasal spray form of dihydroergotamine can help reduce the pain of a cluster headache when used at the first sign you are getting one.2
Dihydroergotamine, which is typically given as a shot, may provide rapid relief of a headache. A person may be able to give his or her own shot.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Check with your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
To treat a cluster headache that has already begun, ergotamine must be used as early as possible for best results. The sooner you treat the headache, the less painful it may be.
If you are taking ergotamine, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions on when and how often to take it. Overuse of ergotamine can lead to a rebound headache.
Ergotamine should not be used to treat headaches in children. And it should not be used in women who are pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant.
Also, ergotamine should not be used by people who have:
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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