Migraine Term of the Day: Receptor

Patient Expert
HealthCentral

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.