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
- 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.