Cluster Headache


Cluster Headache

What is Cluster headache?

Cluster headache is also known as Horton's syndrome. This headache occurs in clusters or patterns. There may be frequent attacks over a span of time, which can last from weeks to months. It is followed by a long period of relief. Remission period can last from months to years. During this time the pain evades away completely.

But, unlike other headaches, cluster headache is quite rare and with proper treatment its attack can be reduced. Proper medications can reduce its frequency as well.


Symptoms of Cluster headache

            •          Cluster headache attacks rapidly without any notice. It can occur in the middle of the night or any time during the day.

            •          Unbearable pain is experienced in, behind, or around one eye and the pain spreads through other areas of your face, head and neck.

            •          Pain is on one particular side

            •          Restlessness

            •          The affected eye becomes reddish

            •          The affected side, including the forehead, starts sweating.

            •          Face becomes pale

            •          Swelling around the side of the affected eye.

            •          Drooping eyelid on the affected side.


Causes of Cluster headache

Definite or exact cause is unknown. But it is found that abnormalities in the body's biological clock trigger its occurrence.

It is also found that during the span of cluster  headache, consumption of liquor aggravates the headache. So it is recommended to avoid alcohol during cluster headaches.

Apart from alcohol, medications such as nitroglycerin ( a drug prescribed for heart disease) triggers cluster headaches.


Diagnosis and Treatment


Cluster headache has a specific type and pattern of pain. It depends on the type of pain, severity of your headaches, description of the attacks and other symptoms, diagnosis is done. Diagnosis is also based on the frequency of the headaches and for how long it continues.

Based on the symptoms, the Doctor will try to diagnose, using certain methods.

  • Neurological examination

This is common with patients suffering from cluster headaches. The doctor by using some procedures will assess your brain function, which includes testing your senses, reflexes and the nerves.

  • Imaging tests

Common tests include

  • MRI- MRI is done to get a detailed image of the brain and blood vessels.
  • CT Scan- CT Scan is done to get a detailed cross sectional view of the brain.



Though there is no definite treatment for cluster headache, the aim is to reduce the intensity of the pain.

The following therapies work effectively for acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache.

For Acute Treatment

  • Oxygen- Inhaling oxygen through a mask is safe and provides instant relief, within 15 mins it starts giving results.
  • Triptans- Oral medications take time to give results. For acute pain injection is effective. Sumatriptan, an injectable medicine, which is used for migraines works instantly.
  • Octreotide- It is also an injectable medication, which is very effective for cluster headache.

Apart from these, Local anesthetics, Dihydroergotamine which is also injectable works well.

Home remedies and change in Lifestyle also proved effective.

  • Maintain a sleep routine- Cluster headaches mainly attack when there are changes in sleep schedule. During cluster attack, maintain the normal sleep routine.
  • Avoid taking Alcohol- As mentioned earlier, consumption of Alcohol, beer or wine aggravates the pain.
  • MINIMAL INVASIVE PROCEDURE- it’s one of definitive pain management procedure we should apply only once all your medical treatment failed, we opt for diagnostic sephenopalatine block to confirm our diagnosis if it respond with diagnostic block ,then we plan to go Radio frequency ablation technique ,where pain get resolved for long term duration.


Cluster headaches are not fatal or deadly. Though the attack seems unbearable, proper medication can help to subdue the pain.