If you have migraine, your doctor might suggest Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT (rizatriptan benzoate) as a treatment option for you.

Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are prescription medications used to treat migraine episodes with or without aura. These drugs are used for this purpose in adults and some children.

Maxalt comes as a tablet that you swallow whole. Maxalt-MLT, known as Maxalt Melt outside the United States, comes as a tablet that dissolves in your mouth.

Both Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT contain the active ingredient rizatriptan benzoate. Each one is used as needed for the treatment of migraine. “As needed” means you take a dose only when you’re actively having a migraine headache. You don’t take Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT daily to prevent migraine episodes from happening.

For more information about Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT, see this in-depth article.

Like other drugs, Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT can cause mild or serious side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

Some people may experience mild or serious side effects during their Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT treatment. Examples of commonly reported side effects include:

Keep reading to learn about other mild and serious side effects of Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT.

Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT include:

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed, too. But if you have any symptoms that are ongoing or that bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Don’t stop using Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT unless your doctor recommends it.

Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT may cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. See their prescribing information for details.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, visit MedWatch.

Most serious side effects from Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are rare, but they can happen. These include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible after using Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT. But it’s not clear whether this side effect occurred in studies.

Below are answers to some common questions about the side effects of Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT.

Does Maxalt-MLT cause the same side effects as Maxalt?

Yes, the side effects of Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are expected to be the same.

Maxalt comes as a tablet that you swallow whole. Maxalt-MLT comes as a wafer (a tablet that dissolves in your mouth).

Both forms of the drug contain the same active ingredient, called rizatriptan. So, their side effects are typically the same, regardless of their form.

If you have questions about what to expect with Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, talk with your doctor.

Can I take Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT for cluster headaches or tension headaches?

Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are not FDA-approved for cluster or tension headaches. It’s unlikely that your doctor would prescribe this medication off-label for these uses. (With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a condition it isn’t approved to treat.)

With cluster headaches, you have painful headaches that happen suddenly. These occur several times each day and usually affect only one side of the head. Cluster headaches may last up to 1 hour but quickly resolve.

With tension headaches, you have pain in your neck, head, or behind your eyes. Tension headaches may feel as though you have a tight band around your head.

If you have cluster or tension headaches, talk with your doctor about your best treatment option.

Is the risk of side effects higher if I take 10 mg of Maxalt instead of 5 mg?

Yes, it’s possible. Your risk of side effects may be higher if you take 10 milligrams (mg) of Maxalt versus 5 mg.

Brand-name Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT aren’t available in a 5-mg strength. The drugs are only available in one strength: 10 mg.

But the generic versions of Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are available in a 5-mg strength. Your doctor can tell you if you’re able to switch to the generic version of these medications.

If your doctor prescribes a 5-mg dose of Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, you may be wondering if you can split the 10-mg tablet. It’s best to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about whether it’s safe for you to do so.

Learn more about some of the side effects Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT may cause.

Rebound headache

Rebound headache is possible with Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of the drug. But rebound headache is common when drugs such as Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are overused.

Rebound headache can cause you to have migraine headaches more often than you usually do.

What might help

It’s important that you do not take more Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT than your doctor has prescribed.

Tell your doctor right away if you start having migraine headaches more often than usual. They may have you stop taking Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT until your migraine episodes occur less often.

If you need to take more Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT than you’ve been prescribed, talk with your doctor. They may switch you to a different drug to treat your condition.

Memory loss

Memory loss is a rare side effect of Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT.

Memory loss may cause the following symptoms:

  • forgetting common words
  • misplacing items you use frequently
  • asking the same questions repeatedly
  • getting lost while walking or driving in an area you’re familiar with

What might help

If you have memory loss that affects your daily life, talk with your doctor. They can advise you about switching to a different medication to help treat your migraine headaches.

Serotonin syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but serious side effect of Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT. With serotonin syndrome, you have too much of a chemical called serotonin built up in your body.

Your risk of this side effect is higher if you take Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT with certain drugs. These include antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may include:

What might help

If you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, stop taking the drug and tell your doctor right away.

Be sure your doctor is aware of all other medications you take. They can tell you if any of these drugs increase your risk of serotonin syndrome when taken with Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But it’s not clear whether this side effect occurred in studies.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest taking an over-the-counter oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine), to help manage your symptoms. Or, they may suggest a topical product, such as hydrocortisone cream.

If your doctor confirms you had a mild allergic reaction to Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, they’ll decide if you should continue using it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Maxalt treatment, consider keeping notes on any side effects you’re having. Then you can share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking new drugs or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon after starting that dose you had the side effect
  • what your symptoms were from the side effect
  • how it affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were also taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help your doctor learn more about how Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT affects you. And your doctor can use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take either form of the drug. The list below includes factors to consider.

History of certain heart problems. It’s likely your doctor won’t prescribe Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT for you if you have a history of certain heart problems, including coronary artery disease. This is because Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT can cause serious heart problems, such as heart attack and abnormal heart rhythm. Your risk of these side effects may be higher if you already have heart problems. Talk with your doctor about the treatment option that’s best for you.

Hemiplegic or basilar migraine. If you have hemiplegic migraine or basilar migraine, it’s likely your doctor won’t prescribe Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT for you. Taking either drug if you have these types of migraine can increase your risk of stroke. This is because stroke is a possible side effect of both drugs. Your doctor can recommend a different treatment for your condition.

Ischemic bowel disease. Before starting Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT, tell your doctor if you have ischemic bowel disease. These drugs can worsen this condition because they work by narrowing your blood vessels. Talk with your doctor about treatment options that may be better for you.

Peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Your doctor may not prescribe Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT for you if you have PVD. Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT can worsen PVD because they work by narrowing your blood vessels. If you have PVD, talk with your doctor about treatment options that may be better for you.

Phenylketonuria (PKU). Maxalt-MLT contains an ingredient called phenylalanine. Because of this, your doctor likely won’t prescribe Maxalt-MLT for you if you have PKU. PKU is a condition that leads to a buildup of phenylalanine in your body. Your doctor may prescribe Maxalt instead. This form of the drug doesn’t contain phenylalanine.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, your doctor likely won’t prescribe Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT. These medications can increase your blood pressure to an unsafe level, which could cause serious problems, including stroke. Your doctor will likely recommend a different treatment option for you.

History of transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke. It’s likely your doctor won’t prescribe Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT if you have a history of TIA (ministroke) or stroke. This is because stroke is a possible serious side effect of these drugs. If you’ve had a TIA or stroke in the past, you’re at a higher risk of having another stroke. Talk with your doctor about the treatment option that’s best for you.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Maxalt, Maxalt-MLT, or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe the drug. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.

Alcohol use with Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT

There aren’t any known safety issues with drinking alcohol while taking Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT.

But keep in mind that drinking alcohol can trigger a migraine episode for some people. If you know alcohol has this effect on you, it may be best to avoid drinking it while taking Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor. They can recommend how much alcohol, if any, is safe for you to drink while taking Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT

It isn’t known for sure if Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. Also, tell them if you’re planning to become pregnant or breastfeed. They can advise you on the risks and benefits of using Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT during these times.

Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are used to treat migraine episodes that happen with or without aura.

Mild side effects from Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT are common. But Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT can also cause serious side effects for some people.

If you have questions about side effects from Maxalt and Maxalt-MLT, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Below are a few questions you may want to ask:

  • How can I manage the side effects I may have from Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT?
  • Do any of my health conditions increase my risk of side effects from Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT?
  • Could any of the medications I’m taking increase my risk of side effects from Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT?

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.