Cluster Headache: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Relief

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Healthy Quote | Facts | Symptoms | Causes | Treatment | Relief | Approach | Outlook | Overview


Acute and chronic cluster headaches can happen to anyone, anytime.


A cluster headache can make you wake up in the night, around an eye, and occurs in cluster with period lasting until you treated it properly.


Attention concentrate on a specific point of the head signals a potential cluster – a health condition known as group headache.


Cluster headaches are but a common complaint among people. Treatment and cures exist.


Today’s healthy quote, “Acute and chronic cluster headaches occur at any time. Seek medical attention if the pain is severe, frequent, or on a random cause!”.



A cluster is a period that is measured in relapse, duration, tenure, and timing.


Most people undergo remission period after a spat of frequent attacks. They typically assumed a normal headache has occurred to them. It’s not the case for a remission period.


The frequency is judged based on hours, days, weeks, and months. Hence, you need to pen down the intervals and duration when you faced a cluster headache.


Headache clusters tend to disrupt daily activities and a sense of discomfort.


Cluster Headache: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Relief

Is cluster headache painful?


Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns or cluster periods – one of the most painful headache types.


This serial pain condition is a series of relatively short yet excruciating painful headaches span over a week or month. The term “clusters” or “groups” is coined because of its cyclical nature.


When you enter into a bout of frequent headaches, the damage can be continuous in weeks or months before you regress into a remission phase. During remission period, you’ll not feel any form of pain, thereby facing a disillusion of wellness.


Cluster headache (CH) is often misdiagnosed as tension headaches. Always visit the nearest doctor, clinical psychologist, or the hospital nearby you for a detailed medical check.


Differences between chronic cluster headaches and tension headaches include:

  • Swelling. Yes for cluster headaches, none for tension headaches.

  • Pain on both sides of head. Found in tension headaches, not applicable for clusters.

  • Watery eye. Symptoms of cluster periods, none for chronic tensions.

Why? A group headache is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent (chronic) headaches on one side of the head. It typically affects one eye and produce eye watering, nasal congestion, or swelling around the eye. These symptoms occur 15 minutes up to 3 hours.


To improve pain control, you’ve to be wary of signs, symptoms, and triggers before the situation escalates. It’s (by far) the best approach to manage the health problem well.



Sudden, throbbing pain around one eye. Any further concentration using eye vision is likely to create a tension, friction, and strain.


Common symptoms around the eye include:

  • Excessive tearing. Watery, liquid, or non-stop dripping of tears.

  • Eye swelling. Swelling of eyes on one side of your pair of eyes.

  • Reddish, swollen eyes. Redness around the affected part of eyes.


Main signs and symptoms include:

Dropping eyelids. Sagging, tired eyelid.

Pain. Extreme pain around an eye.

Paleness. Skin turned pale.

Typical reaction after an action:

Pain. Concentrate, focus, or sight tends to create more pain.

Sweating. Sweating profusely.

Bloodshot eye. Reddish, small pupil.

Nasal discharge. Runny and stuffy nose.

Restlessness. A feeling of discomfort.

Facial discoloration. Red, green, or pale expression.

Evidently, the signs and symptoms of cluster headaches can be easily mistaken for other health issues like migraine, tension headaches, sinusitis, or simply pain in your head. It’s imperative to figure out the exact cause of head pain so as to seek appropriate solutions for treatment.


Find out the determinant factors of cluster headache triggers. Then, describe your identified symptoms to a doctor and wait for a diagnosis on cluster periods. You may need to undergo physical exam, medical and blood tests, or CT scans to MRI scans.


Persistent Symptoms

Chronic “clusters” is to be addressed within the shortest possible time. Persistent symptoms can possibly be a life-threatening complication, viral infection, or an unknown medical condition.


Probable reasons behind fruitless attempt to treat acute cluster headaches include:

  • Frequency encounters. At least 2 headaches daily.

  • Total encounters. More than 15 days of constant pain in your head.

  • Ineffective OTC medications. Over-The-Counter pain relievers no longer working.

  • Renewed headaches. Cluster, sinus, tension, or migraine headaches.

  • Continued discomfort. Feeling of pain returns once medication effect wears off.

Using of over-the-counter solutions can temporarily relieve the pain. It’s prudent to seek the doctor’s advice if these medications don’t work well in the long haul. The doctor may rewrite a new, stronger prescription to cure group headaches. Else, your studies, work, or daily routine will be affected.


Pain can further spread to other parts of facial areas, neck and shoulders, and head.


Cluster Periods

Frequency of headaches can last between 6 to 12 weeks. The start and end of a cluster duration is constant, consistent, and persistent. Journal down your pain periods and show it to your doctor.


Duration of clusters can happen in:

  • Specific time: Summer, Spring, Autumn, or Winter.

  • Episodic cluster headaches: 1 week to 12 months, consistent throughout 12-month period.

  • Remission period: 12 months free from pain, resumed pain after a 12-month period.

An effective treatment is required for an individual during a remission period. It’s the best time to seek cluster headache treatment in order to prevent the pain from recurring again.


Characteristics of Cluster Periods

A cluster headache differs in people. As a responsible adult, you need to note the specific start date and end date of your clustered headache. Sometimes, a painful headache happens but it’s not the actual grouped headache.


Here is the list of what happens during a cluster period:

  • Pain occur at the same intervals daily (usually within a specific time)

  • Lasts for at least 15 minutes and up to 3 hours (fixed time period)

  • Consistent throughout the day, may happen several times a day (cyclical patterns)

  • Happen at night, a few hours after you go to bed

Impromptu, sudden attacks can hit you; they begin intrusively and the pain intensity increases without warnings. The pain usually disappears without an apparent reason. Therefore, it might be a neurological disorder which needs medical assistance from professional psychologist immediately.



Migraines, cluster headaches, tension headaches, and sinus headaches shared common characteristics; pain and pressure in the face. Antibiotics cannot effectively subdue them easily.


Common causes of cluster headaches (groups) include:

  • Stress. Most common reason to happen.

  • Tension. High intensity strains often creates sudden expansion or contraction.

  • High blood pressure. Pressure of arterial walls affects brain functions.

  • Temperature. Sudden change of temperature; hot, cold, or warm.

  • History of headaches. Prevailing migraines and tension headaches.

  • Trauma. Another common reason for head pain recurrence.

  • Hormonal changes. Oral pills, pregnancy, prenatal & postnatal aftermath.

  • Malnutrition. Lack of melatonin and cortisol levels.

  • Remission. Biological clock activates the recurrent neurological disorder.

Poor brain stability especially the hypothalamus is the leading cause of cluster headaches. Environmental conditions and body activity do influence the degree of pain duration. Regular medical checkups and clinic frequency will help to prevent further occurrences – accurate diagnosis after a few visits to your nearest clinic nearby you.



Leaving a cluster headache unattended is not the best solution. Treat it when it is still early. The appropriate measure is to identify trigger points, observe, and avoid whenever necessary. Preventing further irritation can stop future pain with the help of some efforts in learning and controlling situations.


Cures for cluster headache, migraine, tension headache, and sinusitis are detailed below. Sometimes, a patient may suffer from one or more types of headaches.



Deep-breathing. Take quick, short deep breaths to replenish oxygen.

Oxygen pump. Consult your doctor to get an oxygen pump. Double your prescription if needed.

Oxygen tank. You must fill up a Home Oxygen Order Form to buy an oxygen tank, with the help of your doctor. The doctor has to share your medical conditions and specifications of oxygen needs – information is safely guarded under Data Protection Act.


Sumatriptan (Tablets & Injections)

Sumatriptan tablet: Single dose of sumatriptan, triptans or 5-HT1 receptor agonists, used as temporary narrowing of blood vessels in the head – 25mg, 50mg, or 100mg tablet product.

Note: Lmitrex. Not valid for sale with insurance plans. $299 supply of 9 for oral tablets.


Sumatriptan injection: Single injection dose of sumatriptan, triptans or 5-HT1 receptor agonists, natural chemical serotonin used for headaches – 6mg or 12mg – single injections or 2 injections.

Note: Single injection (6 mg) for first hour. Not more than 2 injections (12 mg) in 24 hours.


Precautions – before taking sumatriptan

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, it’s imperative to inform your doctor or pharmacist before taking sumatriptan.

  • Do you have any problems with your liver or kidneys?

  • Do you have any problems with high blood pressure (hypertension)?

  • Have you had a heart attack or do you get angina (chest pain)?

  • Have you had a stroke or do you get transient ischemic attacks?

  • Are you pregnant?

  • Are you breastfeeding?

  • Are you taking medication for depression?

Q&A is the best way to identify whether the medicine is suitable for a person with certain conditions. Or, it can only be used under specific conditions.


Treatment of Bout of Attacks (Neurological Disorder)

  • Ergotamine. Ergot Alkaloids group. Place 1 ergotamine tablet under your tongue.

  • Methysergide. Methysergide oral administration is used prophylactically in headaches.

  • Verapamil. Calcium channel blockers. Treat high blood pressure and relax blood vessels.

  • Lithium. Neurological disorder cure. Treat mania (bipolar disorder) depressive illness.

  • Topiramate. FDA-approved medicine. Migraine and cluster headache prevention.

  • Gabapentin. 900 mg daily doses. Effectiveness begins one week after initiating treatment.


Treatment using Nasal Decongestant

Flonase Allergy Relief Nasal Spray. Purchase from Target or Best Buy.

GoodSense Nasal Decongestant. Buy from Amazon.

Sudafed PE Pressure + Pain + Relief. Sale on Amazon, Target, or Best Buy.

NasalCrom Nasal Allergy Symptom Controller. Get it from Amazon.

Mucinex Sinus-Max Night Time Relief Liquid. Available on Amazon.

Breathe Right Clear Nasal Strips. Buy from CVS.

Afrin Original Nasal Spray. Purchase from CVS.


Treatment using Antihistamines & Decongestants

  • Afrin, Dristan, Vicks Sinex (oxymetazoline).

  • Sudafed PE, Suphedrin PE (phenylephrine).

  • Silfedrine, Sudafed, Suphedrin (pseudoephedrine).

  • Lidocaine, 10% solution of local anesthetic on a cotton swab or nasal spray.


Treatment using Corticosteroids Prescriptions

  • Bethamethasone (Celestone).

  • Prednisone (Prednisone Intensol).

  • Prednisolone (Orapred, Prelone).

  • Triamcinolone (Aristospan Intra-Articular, Aristospan Intralesional, Kenalog).

  • Methylprednisolone (Medrol, Depo-Medrol, Solu-Medrol).

  • Dexamethasone (Dexamethasone Intensol, DexPak 10 Day, DexPak 13 Day, DexPak 6 Day).


Preventive Treatment (Alternative Therapy)

  • Avoid decongestants. Reduced reliance on nasal decongestants.

  • Natural breathing. Explore lung and breathing techniques.

  • Environmental change. Change your job, workplace, or places of interest.

  • Talk to an expert. Seek second opinion on your mild, acute, or chronic sinus headaches.


Home Remedies for Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

  • Hydration. Drink plenty of fluids to flush out mucus and nasal discharges.

  • Heat pads. Apply warm or heat pads around the affected sinuses.

  • Neti pods. Use neti pods, squeeze bottle systems, or saline (saltwater) sprays.

  • Acupuncture. Eastern treatment of acupressure to clear blocked passageways.

  • Essential oils. Fragrant, soothing essences help in pain relief.

  • Rest. Appropriate rest and relaxation techniques.

  • Meditation. Adopt a healthy living can lower risk of sinusitis relapse.

  • Turmeric powder. Produces a thick and burning effect.


Always check with your assigned doctor for the best treatment methods. A doctor’s prescription may interfere with the aforementioned remedies. It’s ideal to retain existing treatment solutions because an impromptu change of treatment types can lead to sudden health complications. For example, a person on medication cannot switch to acupressure due to blood pressure irregulation.


Temporary Home Remedies (Over-The-Counter Medications)

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB)

  • Aspirin

  • Paracetamol

Remember to use them only if needed. Excessive dosage may cause other health complications especially the kidneys, livers, or digestive tracts. Higher doses each time happens because of the body’s immunoreaction to these OTC medications. Do check with your doctor for more information.


Doctor’s Prescriptions for Home Treatment (Over-The-Counter Medications)

  • Naproxen (Naprosyn)

  • Indomethacin (Indocin)

  • Ketorolac (Ketorolac Tromethamine)

  • Opiates (OxyContin, Vicodin, Perocet)

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)


Local Pharmacy Stores (Over-The-Counter Medications)

  • Muscle relaxants (Baclofen or Lioresal, Tizanidine or Zanaflex)

  • Antidepressants (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI, Triptans, Imitrex, SNRI)



  • Clinical examinations (Consultations)

  • Acupuncture (Acupressure)

  • Breathing management modules (classes)

  • Non-invasive therapies (Yoga, Swimming, Mindfulness)

Pain relievers work well in the short term yet headache issue persists till fully managed. If you want to control head pains, look into highly effective alternative therapies like eastern acupuncture therapy and medicinal herbs. Fine needles on pressure points can alleviate the pain while herbal remedies subsiding the trigger points – perfect combo for cluster period management.



Subdue cluster headaches with the help of supplements. This technique is insofar a good remedy. Just avoid using preventive supplements and western medicines at the same time. Counter-reactive effects might be present because of poor interactions.


A change in lifestyle often helps to reduce the likelihood and severity of headaches. You need to develop a routine habit in order to combat sinus reactions – regular sleep patterns, proper nutrition, eating habits, and minor adapts to your lifestyle.


Common ways of reducing risk of cluster headache relapses include:


Smart Clusters Care (Avoid Triggers)

Identify the allergens you easily come in contact. External stimuli can happen anytime, anywhere. It’s commonly found in seasonal changes, foods and beverages, tobacco products, odors, or environmental factors. Exercise care when you come into contact directly or indirectly. Best is to avoid them!


Regular Workouts (Exercise Regime)

A conducive environment for regular exercises improve your body’s immune system. A stronger immunity deters frequent attacks, recurrence, or other health problems. Frequency of exercise have to be within control.


Useful exercise regimes entail:

  • Light-weight aerobics

  • Brisk walking

  • Swimming

  • Cycling or biking

Conduct warm-ups before any high intensity exercise. Sudden intensities may trigger cluster headaches, migraines, sinus headaches or chronic relapses. Don’t forget to eat something too.


Eliminate Use of Estrogen (Reduced Estrogen Effects)

Estrogen causes headaches in most people. If you’re on medications containing estrogen, sustained head pains might be evident. So reduce the doses of hormone replacements or birth control pills.


Cluster Headache Surgery

Occipital nerve stimulation. A battery-powered stimulator controls the lead (implanted over occipital nerve in the back of head/neck) – to balance the frequency and intensity of attacks.

Hypothalamic stimulation. Stimulation of hypothalamus is used to counteract hyperactivity, hence reducing headache intensity – procedural risks and not done in major medical centers.

Destructive surgery. In an event of severity, only as a treatment of last resort, this procedure has significant risk – not to be express as an opinion and a must to seek second opinion.


Sinus Surgery

  • Endoscopy. Endoscopic checks on sinus areas.

  • Remove polyps. Removal of polyps open up the pathways of the sinuses.

  • Applied medications. Auto-inhaler insertions help to automatically clear blockages.

  • Surgical removals. Treat abnormal sinus structures or abnormal growths in the sinus.

  • Targeted therapies. Subdue winter-cold, summer-hot, or any seasonal climate changes.


More Alternatives

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health prescribes the following supplements to help lower risk of headaches.


7 supplements that improve other headache pain include:

  • Feverfew

  • Butterbur

  • Co-Q10 or Coenzyme Q10

  • Antidepressants

  • Riboflavin

  • B-12 Vitamins supplements

  • Herbal extracts or medicinal herbs

An important note is not to use more than one preventive medication at a time. Overuse or overdose of medication can cause intoxication – harm the kidney, liver, or body organs. Most supplements improve body’s immunity against headaches but you’ll need to check with a doctor.


Even if your pharmacy’s medicine does not curb tensions, made up of low-grade ingredient or an ineffective solution, the effect can at least mitigate pain in head for an extended time. Also, preventive therapy aims at reducing frequency of the cluster headaches.


Also, check out other non-invasive treatments:

  • Muscle-relaxing showers (hot, cold, warm)

  • Improved sitting posture (straightened backbone, lumbar support)

  • Ice pads (WellPatch, Coralite, BeKoool, Kool ‘n’ Soothe, MigraSoothe)

  • Heating pads (Sunny Bay, Neck & Body Wraps, Thermophore, Thermotex Platinum)

  • Wake-up delays (15 minutes doing nothing after waking up from sleep)


Always look for practical measures you can use at the comfort of home. They’re low in cost, effective, and hassle-free. Otherwise, trips to doctor clinics, hospitals, or pharmacy stores can cost you some money, time, work leaves, and resources. Work on those headache triggers.



Diagnosis of cluster headaches is not simple. Initial prognosis from doctors might be severe headaches, migraines, vertigo, or neurological problems. Book your consultation today. A tested and proven method of treatment can possibly exclude the need of surgery and medication.


Cluster Headache – Diagnosis and treatment may include:

Cluster X-rays.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.

Questions & Answers.

Neurological examination.

Allergen trials.

Traditional checkbox criteria.

In short, there’s no permanent cure to cluster headaches nor viable treatment options to heal them. And, it’s possible for a relapse on acute and chronic cluster headaches. Never delay your cluster headache treatment appointments. One wrong move might lead to serious health consequence, sometimes life-threatening complications.


Searches related to cluster headaches (bouts or periods):

Query: Prophylaxis, disorder, aura, medicine, test, slurred speech, tension, vertigo, neurology.

Types: Frontal sinus headache. Dry sinus headache. Tension headache sinus. Sinus headache back of head. Sinus headache without congestion. Sinus headache relief pressure points. Complicated Migraine (Aura). Migraine without aura (Common). Hemiplegic migraine. Retinal migraine. Ice Pick migraine. Cluster headaches. Familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM). Cervicogenic headache, Temporal arteritis, Giant cell arteritis (GCA). Trigeminal neuralgia. Mild cluster headache. Chronic cluster headache.

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