Pizotifen helps to stop migraine-type headaches from occurring.
Take the tablets regularly every day.Having an increased appetite and feeling sleepy are the main side-effects.
|Type of medicine||An antimigraine medicine|
|Used for||To prevent migraines and migraine-type headaches (in adults and older children)|
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. Although it can help to reduce the number of attacks you have, it is not effective in relieving a migraine attack that has already started.
Before taking pizotifen
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking pizotifen it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have increased pressure in your eye, a condition called glaucoma.
- If you have been experiencing difficulty passing urine.
- If you have ever had fits or epilepsy.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or if you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take pizotifen
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about pizotifen, and will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Take the tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to. You will find the directions for taking the tablets on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you. There are two strengths of tablet: 500 micrograms and 1.5 mg. It is usual to begin by taking one 500 microgram tablet a day at bedtime. Your dose may then be gradually increased to the usual maintenance dose of 1.5 mg daily (taken as one single daily dose at bedtime, or divided into three smaller doses).
- Swallow the tablet with a drink of water. Try to take your doses at the same time(s) of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take pizotifen regularly. You can take the tablet either with or without food.
- If you forget to take a dose at your usual time, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose and take the next dose as normal). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- For some people there may be things which trigger an attack. 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 things that you suspect trigger your headaches.
- Pizotifen can cause sleepiness. Your doctor may recommend that you do not drink alcohol while you are taking the tablets, as alcohol will increase the drowsiness.
- It is unlikely that pizotifen will stop your headaches completely. You may find it useful to keep a migraine diary to monitor how well it is working. Note down when and where each attack started, what you were doing, and what you had eaten that day. A pattern may emerge and it may be possible for you to avoid some of the things that trigger your attacks.
- If a migraine attack occurs despite taking pizotifen, you can still take painkillers or a triptan medicine to ease the pain and sickness.
Can pizotifen cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with pizotifen. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Very common pizotifen side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Increased appetite and weight gain||Try to eat a well-balanced diet|
|Common pizotifen side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sleepy, or tired||Do not drive or use tools or machines while affected. Do not drink alcohol|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Feeling sick||Stick to simple foods - avoid fatty or spicy meals|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store pizotifen
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
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
- Manufacturer's PIL, Pizotifen Tablets 500 mcg, 1.5 mg; Actavis UK Ltd. The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2014.
- British National Formulary; 71st Edition (Mar-Sep 2016) 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.
Dr Hannah Gronow