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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Elevated Body Heat Can Cause Cluster Headaches

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The biggest part of taking care of headache is ... avoiding triggers," says Saxton. Patients can discover their own triggers by keeping a headache diary, she says. Making a list of factors or situations that trigger the headaches will enable cluster patients to manage their condition and their headache seasons more effectively, she tells WebMD. Saxton is an associate professor of neurology at UCLA, where she directs the migraine clinic.

Working with a pool of 200 patients who had been diagnosed with cluster headaches, Brau and his co-author took patient histories either during or shortly after a cluster period. The patients were asked about body temperature and perspiration during the attacks. Of these patients, 70 reported sweating on both sides of the face, neck, and body, and six felt hot but did not recall sweating. Another 66 recalled neither perspiring nor feeling hot.

The findings don't mean that cluster patients should avoid heat and become celibate, say Saxton. "In some patients, [avoiding] heat may be important during the [cluster] season but not at other times."

Cluster headache attacks are often treated with medications used for migraines. Drugs such as Imitrex (sumatriptan) and Maxalt (rizatriptan) often can stop an individual attack. During a headache season, a physician will often prescribe a drug to help prevent recurrent headaches, Saxton says. She adds that some medications used to treat high blood pressure are effective at preventing the series of headaches. Although they are usually taken daily, patients may be able to take them only during the time of the year associated with a cluster period.

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