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Cluster Headaches

What are Cluster Headaches?
Cluster headaches are rare and more common in men than in women. They often begin in mid-life between 20 and 45 years of age. The pain is severe and often described as a hot iron being twisted around through the temple or eye. Cluster headaches can last from 15 minutes to three hours or longer. They tend to appear in waves over a few weeks or months. The waves can occur once or twice a year. The cluster headaches tend to occur at the same time of the day, sometimes described as being like clockwork. Cluster headaches may be accompanied by a stuffy or runny nose, red teary eyes, a flushed face and a droopy eyelid on the side of the pain.

What Causes Cluster Headaches?
The cause of cluster headaches is unknown. Many researchers feel there is a link between cluster headaches and migraine headaches.

How are Cluster Headaches Diagnosed and Treated?
The diagnosis of cluster headaches is usually based on the patient's history and physical examination. Generally, the history of cluster headaches is so characteristic that it cannot be confused with any other disease. A thorough neurologic exam as part of the physical exam, will help to rule out other causes of headaches. Occasionally, imaging of the brain may be done with CT or MRI scans.

Medication is often used to treat cluster headaches. Many of the medications useful in treating migraine headaches are used for cluster headaches. Inhaling oxygen is also used to treat some patients with cluster headaches.

Minnesota Headache Center
A service of Noran Neurological Clinic
612.879.1000