Medicines may stop a cluster headache after it starts and prevent more headaches from occurring. Finding the right medicine can take some time. You may need a combination of medicines to effectively treat your cluster headaches.
Medicines and treatments that stop cluster headaches after they start
High-flow oxygen inhalation therapy, in which you breathe oxygen through a face mask to relieve headache pain. Oxygen therapy is one of the best treatments to stop a cluster headache. Oxygen therapy relieves headache pain within 15 minutes in more than 7 out of 10 people who use it. It works best when started right when a cluster headache starts.1 But you need to repeat the treatment when the next headache begins.
Triptans, which can be given as a shot, sprayed in the nose, or taken by mouth as a pill to reduce pressure and pain.
Octreotide, which can be used as a shot to stop headache pain.
Lidocaine, which is taken by nose drops to stop severe headache pain.
Ergotamine preparations, which can be given as a pill or in a vein to relieve pressure and reduce headache pain.
Medicines that prevent cluster headaches during a cluster period
Medicines that prevent cluster headaches during a cluster period include:
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone. These medicines are used to stop cluster headaches for a short time. These medicines give you some relief from headaches while preventive medicines start to work. Corticosteroids are not used as preventive medicines long-term because of bad side effects.
Verapamil. This medicine is used to prevent or reduce the number of headaches in a cluster cycle. Verapamil is commonly used for preventing both occasional and chronic cluster headaches.
Lithium. This medicine is often prescribed to prevent chronic cluster headaches.