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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Cluster Headache

Cluster Headache

If headache comes in groups it is termed as cluster headache. The pain is most severe and intense compared to other headache type. It lasts less than one hour but sometimes it may last for several hours. As the name suggests it will recur after some time in succession. It generally occurs during the morning or late at night. One cycle can last weeks or months and then can disappear for months or years. The headache is usually unilateral and generally sticks to the same side of the head.


There may also be pain around eye. Generally sufferers experience one to four headaches a day during a cluster period. More than 5% of the sufferers, however, experience chronic cluster headaches that occur all year long.  Less than one percent of the population having headache are victims of cluster headaches, and there first encounter with the headache starts the ages of 20 and 45. Men are more commonly sufferer than the women. Cluster headache shows sexual preponderance as men are four times more commonly affected as compared to the females. It is also a type of vascular headache because of this only it was previously considered as migraine. Narrow line of distinction exists between the migraine and cluster headache.


  • Unilateral Headache
  • Generally affects the same side of the head and rarely changes the pattern also
  • Pain around eye
  • Pain around eye will be unilateral in nature
  • There may be a feeling that someone is pulling out the eye or is stabbing it with knife
  • Pain may radiate from one eye to other eye, to forehead, temples and cheeks also
  • Pain may be piercing, burning, throbbing, pulsating, and excruciating

Precipitating Factors

Various precipitating factors for the cluster headache are -

  • Chronic smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Increased levels of histamine in blood


Various drugs that are used for the treatment of the cluster headache are -

  • Verapamil
  • Prednisone
  • Ergotamine tartrate
  • Lithium carbonate
  • Divalproex Sodium
  • Histamine acid phosphate
  • Oxygen
  • Dihydroergotamine
  • Sumatriptan
  • Lidocaine