Corticosteroids (such as prednisone or dexamethasone) are referred to as "transitional" medicines for the treatment of cluster headaches, because they are sometimes used to break a cycle of cluster headaches. They are paired with medicines that stop (abortive) or prevent (prophylactic) additional headaches during a headache cycle. Often, within 2 to 4 days after starting treatment with corticosteroids, you will become headache-free. By the time the corticosteroids are stopped-their use is often tapered within 6 to 8 weeks of starting and then discontinued-the medicines used to prevent cluster headaches, such as verapamil, have taken effect.
Corticosteroids are not used over a long period of time because they can cause serious side effects, including:
Sudden and strong, like a clap of thunder, these headaches hit you with a blast of severe pain and can reach their peak in just 60 seconds. You may feel relief in about an hour. But sometimes, the pain can last up to 10 days.