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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:

    Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

    Migraine Prevention: What You Can Do

    When you’ve had the throbbing pain of a migraine, you want to do what you can to avoid another one. If you get these headaches often or have severe ones, avoid the things that you know set them off, called triggers, like specific foods, smells, and alcohol, for example. You might be able to keep migraines away with a couple other tactics, too: Use preventive medications or devices. Make lifestyle changes.  

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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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