Common signs and symptoms
Cluster headaches are severely painful headaches that occur in clusters. You experience cycles of headache attacks, followed by headache-free periods.
The frequency of your headaches during these cycles may range from one headache every other day to several headaches per day. Pain from cluster headaches can be extremely severe.
Cluster headaches are most common between adolescence and middle age, but can occur at any age.
Treatment of Cluster Headaches
Brewer says that treatment of cluster headache is still misunderstood, and that the patient community is often lumped in with migraine despite being two very different conditions.
“Even in the medical community, a lot of doctors will try to treat cluster headache with opioids, which doesn’t work at all,” Brewer says. “There’s a lot of crossover in between migraine and cluster headache treatments because there really hasn’t been a lot of research on what works for cluster headache, so a lot of people think that if you can treat a migraine, you can treat a cluster headache—and that isn’t the case at all.”
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A cluster headache strikes quickly, usually without warning, although you might first have migraine-like nausea and aura. Common signs and symptoms during a headache include:
- Excruciating pain that is generally situated in, behind or around one eye, but may radiate to other areas of your face, head and neck
- One-sided pain
- Excessive tearing
- Redness of your eye on the affected side
- Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side
- Forehead or facial sweating on the affected side
- Pale skin (pallor) or flushing on your face
- Swelling around your eye on the affected side
- Drooping eyelid on the affected side
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