Cluster Headache


A cluster headache is an uncommon condition of excruciating pain on one side of the head and face which happens repeatedly for a period of time followed by a period of absence.

Causes for cluster headaches are not known.

Symptoms may appear at the same time for weeks at a time followed by a period of absence. They include:

  • Penetrating, burning pain of extreme intensity
  • Pain usually on one side of the head which starts and increases suddenly
  • Restlessness
  • Tearing of the eye on the affected side
  • Runny and stuffy nostril on the affected side
  • Sweating on the face
  • Pale skin
  • Flushing and swelling on the affected side
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Reduced pupil size

There is no cure for cluster headaches. Treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms as they can become unbearable. Treatment is of two kinds:

  • Preventive: This includes medications to prevent the headaches from starting or to reduce the frequency of their occurrence.
  • Abortive: This includes medications to control the symptoms once they have started. Sometimes inhaling 100% oxygen also reduces the pain.

Since the cause is not clear, there is no way to prevent cluster headaches. Reoccurrences can be managed with help of preventive medications.