Cluster Headache - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms and signs of cluster headaches?

Cluster headache is always unilateral, or one-sided. However, some patients may experience some variability of the side on which their headache occurs. Most patients describe their pain as occurring around or behind the eye; pain is also described as radiating along the forehead, into the jaw or along the gum line and into the teeth, or across the cheek of the affected side. Infrequently, pain may extend into the ear, neck, or shoulder. Although watering (tearing) of the eye is frequently identified, some patients may only experience some redness of the conjunctiva. Eyelid drooping or swelling and a runny nose (rhinorrhea) are often associated with the pain of a cluster headache. Symptoms more commonly identified with migraine headaches, including sensitivity to light, sounds, or odors may occur. However, unlike migraine headache, movement does not worsen the pain of a cluster headache. In fact, many patients (more than 90% in one report) describe a sense of restlessness during their pain.

The headaches associated with cluster occur in groups. While the headaches themselves may be brief (as short as 15 minutes), the headaches can recur up to eight times in 24 hours. Headaches may last as long as 3 hours. Cluster cycles may last for only a single day, or may linger for many weeks.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: roxy40, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 28

I have had cluster headaches since the beginning of January. The pain is on the left side of my face. It feels like a stabbing pain. I have pain in the jaw, cheek and neck. The pain is so bad that even touching my hair on my left side hurts, my left sinus cavity is always blocked and I feel all stuffed up. Mine start in the morning and continue what feels like all day long. Left eye tears up and there are times I can"t take the pain. OTC pain medications don"t help, finally started on Imitrex, but the pain is so bad.

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Comment from: aml, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 11

I have had cluster headaches for about 7 years now. The pain behind the eye, temple and neck is a pain that I would not wish on anyone. My right eye waters (sometimes droops), along with my right nostril always dripping. I bought a body massager and use that on my temple and any very sore and sensitive area on my scalp. I have taken medications but nothing ever seemed to work. Some nights my cries are a little scary, if you didn"t know me. The pain will make you say some things that you normally would not think to say.

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