Writer’s note: Some of you have expressed an interest in learning more of the medical terminology that comes up when discussing migraine disease and other headache disorders. So, I’ll be posting a “term of the day,” on a regular basis. If there are terms you’d like to have defined, please leave a comment below.
When we’re given migraine and headache information, whether from our doctor, a book, or an online article, we sometimes come across medical terms that can be confusing. While it’s easy enough to substitute another word or a short phrase for the medical term, there are times when substituting doesn’t quite convey the same meaning.
Receptor is one of those terms. A receptor is a structure either inside or on the surface of a cell that selectively receives and binds a specific substance. When we talk about Migraines, we sometimes discuss receptors in relationship to medications, particular Migraine abortive medications. The triptans – Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Relpax, Axert, and Frova – work by binding to different combinations of serotonin receptors. This comes into play when we discuss why we shouldn’t take different triptans in a 24-hour period and when we discuss the possibility of serotonin syndrome when we take different types of medications that impact serotonin levels.
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For more terms, see our Migraine Medical Terms Glossary Index.
Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD. © Teri Robert, 2010
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate in the area of migraine and other headache disorders, and has been writing for the HealthCentral migraine site since 2007. She is a co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association. She received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award for “ongoing patient education, support, and advocacy,” in 2004 and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society in 2013. You can find links to Teri’s work on her web site and blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.