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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Cluster headache

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How might cluster headaches be treated?

Treatment does not cure cluster headaches. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms. Spontaneous remission may occur, or treatment may be required to prevent headaches.[1]

There are medications available to lessen the pain of a cluster headache and suppress future attacks. Oxygen inhalation and triptan drugs (such as those used to treat migraine) administered as a tablet, nasal spray, or injection can provide quick relief from acute cluster headache pain. Lidocaine nasal spray, which numbs the nose and nostrils, may also be effective.  Ergotamine and corticosteroids such as prednisone and dexamethasone may be prescribed to break the cluster cycle and then tapered off once headaches end.  Verapamil may be used preventively to decrease the frequency and pain level of attacks. Lithium, valproic acid, and topiramate are sometimes also used preventively.[2] 

More detailed information on medications can be found in the treatment and management sections of Medscape Reference's article on cluster headache.
Last updated: 11/1/2013

  1. Luc Jasmin. Cluster headaches. MedlinePlus. November 2, 2012; Accessed 11/1/2013.
  2. Headache: Hope Through Research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). July 2, 2013; Accessed 11/1/2013.

Clinical Trials & Research for this Disease

  • The Centers for Mendelian Genomics program is working to discover the causes of rare genetic disorders. For more information about applying to the research study, please visit their website.
  • lists trials that are studying or have studied Cluster headache. Click on the link to go to to read descriptions of these studies.