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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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    What’s the best way to describe how an ice pick headache feels? It’s like someone’s stabbing your face with an ice pick. That’s why they're also called stabbing headaches. Many people from time to time feel quick jabs or jolts of severe pain around one of their eyes or at their temple. They usually last only a few seconds. They might happen in the same spot over and over again. Or, you could feel them in different places each time, such as on one temple and then the other. They can crop up at any...

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

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    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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