Cluster Headaches

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cluster headaches, which occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, are one of the most painful types of headaches. Dr. Edward Hill discusses cluster headaches in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Cluster headaches are typically one-sided and tend to occur in clusters, or groups, over a period of weeks or months. Patients commonly describe cluster headaches as the worst pain they have ever experienced.

Attacks typically last from 15 minutes to three or more hours. Onset is rapid and can wake people from sleep. There are no warning signs, but some people have preliminary sensations of pain in the general area of the attack.

Associated symptoms can include tearing, eye redness, runny nose, facial sweating and drooping eyelid. Patients also have a sense of restlessness.

While the cause of cluster headache is unknown, the intense pain is thought to relate to malfunction of descending pain control centers in the hypothalamus and brainstem regions.

There is no cure for cluster headaches. Treatments include inhaling a medication called ergotamine, intravenous injection of dihydroergotamine, breathing 100 percent oxygen or taking medications called tryptans.

Preventive treatments include avoiding alcohol, reducing stress and taking prescription drugs such as lithium, depakote, prednisone and verapamil.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.