Pizotifen

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Pizotifen helps stop migraine attacks from occuring. It is not effective in relieving an attack once it has started.

Take it regularly every day.

Putting on weight and feeling sleepy are the main side-effects.

Remember to avoid the things that you know trigger your migraine attacks.

Type of medicine An antimigraine medicine
Used for To prevent migraines and migraine-type headaches in adults and older children
Available as Tablets

Pizotifen is taken to prevent troublesome headaches such as migraine and recurrent throbbing headaches. It is also used to treat cluster headaches. These are headaches which occur in close succession at certain times of the year, usually lasting 6-12 weeks.

Your body produces chemicals which, in some cases, may be involved in causing headaches. These chemicals are 'serotonin', 'tryptamine' and 'histamine'. Pizotifen helps to stop the effect of these chemicals.

Pizotifen must be taken every day to help stop migraine attacks from starting. It may not completely stop every migraine attack, but the number and severity of your attacks should reduce. It is not effective in relieving migraine attacks that have already started.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking pizotifen it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have glaucoma (increased pressure in your eye).
  • If you have been experiencing difficulty passing urine.
  • If you have ever had fits or epilepsy.
  • If you have kidney or liver problems.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about pizotifen and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take the tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you. There are two strengths of tablet (500 micrograms and 1.5 mg). It is usual to begin by taking one 500 microgram tablet daily at bedtime, and then for this dose to be increased gradually to the usual dose of 1.5 mg daily (taken as one single daily dose at bedtime, or divided into three smaller doses).
  • Try to take your doses at the same time(s) each day, as this will help you to remember to take them. You can take the tablets before or after food.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if when you remember it is nearly time for your next dose then leave out the forgotten dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Many things can trigger migraines. These can include some foods (for example, cheese, chocolate, and red wine), worry, bright sunlight, too much or too little sleep, and skipping meals. Try to avoid the things that you know trigger your migraines.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Pizotifen can make you feel sleepy and drinking alcohol will increase these feelings. Your doctor may recommend you do not drink alcohol while you are on pizotifen.
  • It is unlikely that pizotifen will stop your migraine attacks completely. You may find it useful to keep a migraine diary to monitor how well it is working.
  • If a migraine attack occurs, you can still take painkillers or a triptan to ease the pain and sickness.
  • It is common practice to take an antimigraine medicine like pizotifen for 4-6 months. After this, your doctor may suggest you stop it to see if it is still needed. Your doctor will probably suggest you reduce your dose slowly over a few days, if this is the case.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common pizotifen side-effects What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling sleepy, or dizzy If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol
Increased appetite and weight gain Try to eat a well-balanced diet
Dry mouth Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets
Feeling sick Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 64th Edition (Sep 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
3315 (v25)
Last Checked:
24/01/2013
Next Review:
24/01/2016
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