What is a cluster headache?
A cluster headache is a rare kind of headache. It happens in a cluster or bunch that can last for weeks or months. During a cluster, the headaches happen every day. In between clusters, there usually are no headaches. A few people have the headaches all the time.
Cluster headaches cause severe pain in or around one eye. Your eye may get red or watery, and you might have a runny nose or stuffiness on the side with the pain. Each headache usually lasts from 30 minutes to three hours. During a cluster headache, you may feel restless and nervous.
What causes cluster headaches?
No one knows what causes these headaches. Cluster headaches are not a sign of another disease.
How are cluster headaches treated?
The best treatment usually is to breathe oxygen through a face mask for 15 minutes during the headache. Another treatment that can help is a shot or nasal spray of a medicine called sumatriptan (say: soo-mah-trip-tan).
If you have a lot of cluster headaches, you may need to take medicine every day. Talk with your doctor about the right treatment for you.
What else can I do to stop cluster headaches?
Certain things can start a headache during a cluster. Common triggers are drinking alcohol and smoking. Certain medicines, such as the nitrates used for heart problems, can trigger this kind of headache.
How can I help someone who has cluster headaches?
For some people, the pain from cluster headaches can be so bad that they will bang their heads against a wall. This can be scary for the family. Just remember that the pain will stop. Be supportive and help with medicine. It can be stressful to have a family member with cluster headaches. Talk with your doctor if you are worried.
Where can I get more information?