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Corticosteroids for Cluster Headaches - Topic Overview

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:

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Many everyday things can trigger (cause) a migraine headache. Depending on your sensitivity, it might be red wine, caffeine withdrawal, emotional stress, or skipped meals. To take control of migraines, you must understand your migraine pattern. The first step is tracking your migraines by using a headache diary. Make notes of activities before -- or when -- a migraine occurred. What were you eating? What were you doing? How much sleep did you get the night before? Did anything stressful or important...

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See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 27, 2012
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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