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    Cluster Headache

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Cluster Headache is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Synonyms

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • chronic cluster headache
    • episodic cluster headache

    General Discussion

    Summary
    Cluster headaches (CH) are an uncommon, severe form of primary neurovascular headaches. CH are the most painful form of headaches, with the pain occurring on one side of the head and behind or above the eye or at the temple most commonly. The pain has been described as searing, burning and stabbing. The age of onset of CH is most often between 20 and 40, and they are more common in men than women with a ratio of 2:1. CH attacks also include one or more cranial autonomic symptoms (CAS) on the same side of the head as the pain (ipsilaterally) such as red eye (conjunctival injection), eyelid swelling (edema), forehead and facial sweating, tearing (lacrimation), abnormally small size of the pupil (miosis), nasal congestion, runny nose (rhinorrhea), and drooping eyelid (ptosis). CH is divided into episodic and chronic. Episodic cluster headache patients usually suffer from 1 to 4 short headaches a day that can individually last between 15-120 minutes when they are having a series of attacks. These attacks (cluster periods) last for weeks or months and are separated by months or years of remission periods where the patients are pain-free. Chronic cluster headache patients suffer without remissions for 1 year or more or with remissions so brief they do not even span a month. Less than 20% of cluster headache patients have the chronic form. It is not yet clear what causes CH, but scientists have discovered a lot of recent evidence that links it to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. There is no cure, and treatment is determined on an individual basis. However, the two most effective types of acute or symptomatic treatment, high-flow inhaled oxygen and injections of subcutaneous sumatriptan, have been proven to be effective in reducing the pain from CH.

    Introduction
    Cluster headaches were first completely described by the London neurologist Wilfred Harris in 1926. At that time, it was believed that nearly 90% of CH patients were men, while women instead suffered with migraine headaches. Although it has been confirmed that men are more at risk for developing CH, that ratio has decreased significantly. Researchers theorize that this is because women have long been misdiagnosed with migraines instead. Treatment for migraine headaches differ in several ways from CH, so an accurate diagnosis is important.

    Resources

    National Headache Foundation
    820 N. Orleans
    Suite 411
    Chicago, IL 60610-
    USA
    Tel: (312)274-2650
    Fax: (312)460-9049
    Tel: (888)643-5552
    Email: info@headaches.org
    Internet: http://www.headaches.org

    NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    P.O. Box 5801
    Bethesda, MD 20824
    Tel: (301)496-5751
    Fax: (301)402-2186
    Tel: (800)352-9424
    TDD: (301)468-5981
    Internet: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/

    American Council for Headache Education
    19 Mantua Road
    Mount Royal, NJ 08061
    Tel: (856)423-0043
    Fax: (856)423-0082
    Tel: (800)255-2243
    Email: amf@talley.com
    Internet: http://www.achenet.org

    Organization for Understanding Cluster Headaches (O.U.C.H.)
    c/o Sandy Cullen P.O. Box 902
    Jamestown, NC 27282
    USA
    Tel: (214)783-1899
    Email: familyservices@ouch-us.org
    Internet: http://www.ouch-us.org/

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 5/29/2012
    Copyright 1989, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2012 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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