Cluster headache is a type of severe, recurring pain that is located on one side of the head. It received its name from the clustering or pattern of frequent headaches that usually occur.
There are two main types of cluster headaches:
Episodic cluster headaches—These occur one or more times daily for 4-8 weeks. The headaches then enter a period of remission and come back months or years later.
Chronic cluster headaches—These occur almost daily with headache-free periods lasting less than two weeks.
Either type of headache may convert to the other type.
The cause of cluster headaches is unknown. It is thought that there is abnormal activation of the area of the brain responsible for regulating temperature, blood pressure, hormone release, and sleep The pain is caused by a combination of widening of the blood vessels and inflammation of the nerves of the face.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
Risk factors include:
Age: 20-50 years old
Prior head surgery or head injury
Positive family history of cluster headaches
History of a small hole in the heart (called patent foramen ovale)
Stabbing, penetrating, burning, or explosive head pain that:
Has a rapid onset
Is on one side of the head, but not both
Often starts around the eye and spreads to the same side of the head
Causes facial flushing
Occurs daily or almost every day for 4-8 weeks
Can occur 1-8 times per day
Lasts 15 minutes to 3 hours
Often occurs at about the same time each day
Increases in intensity over time
May start within two hours of going to sleep
Can awaken you from sleep
Aura—This can include visual disturbance, visual spots, or the inability to move one side of the body. This more often occurs with
. But, auras can also happen with cluster headaches in a minority of cases.
Restlessness and agitation
During the headache other symptoms may occur on the affected side, including:
Breathing 100% oxygen for 10-15 minutes often relieves cluster headache pain. The oxygen appears to decrease blood flow to the affected area of the brain. People under age 50 who have episodic cluster headaches seem to benefit most from oxygen therapy.
Oxygen therapy can be expensive, though, and there are risks with this therapy.
As a last resort, some doctors may recommend cutting or destroying a facial nerve to eliminate the pain.
To prevent cluster headaches from getting worse, preventive medication may be given. In addition:
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a