by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A cluster headache is severe pain that on one side of the head. The pain comes and goes in groups called clusters.
There are two main types:
Either type of headache may switch to the other type.
The exact cause is not known.
Some triggers may be:
This problem often starts in people who are 10 to 39 years of age. It is more common in men. Other things that may raise the risk are:
A person may have an aura before the headache starts. This may include vision problems or abnormal sensations.
The main problem is sharp, piercing, or throbbing pain that:
During the headache, a person may also have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked about the frequency and pattern of your headaches. Physical and neurological exams will be done.
Images of the brain may be taken. This can be done with:
There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and reduce the frequency of headaches. Options are:
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. This is not common and can also result in side effects.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Headache Society
National Headache Foundation
Cluster headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cluster-headache. Accessed July 20, 2021.
Headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Headache-Information-Page. Accessed July 20, 2021.
Suri H, Ailani J. Cluster headache: a review and update in treatment. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2021;21(7):31.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 7/20/2021