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What are the symptoms of cluster headaches?

Cluster headaches are headaches that come in groups (clusters) separated by pain-free periods of months or years. A patient may experience a headache on a daily basis for weeks or months and then be pain-free for years. This type of headache affects men more frequently. They often begin in adolescence but can extend into middle age.

  • During the period in which the cluster headaches occur, pain typically occurs once or twice daily, but some patients may experience pain more than twice daily.
  • Each episode of pain lasts from 30 to 90 minutes.
  • Attacks tend to occur at about the same time every day and often awaken the patient at night from a sound sleep.
  • The pain typically is excruciating and located around or behind one eye.
  • Some patients describe the pain as feeling like a hot poker in the eye. The affected eye may become red, inflamed, and watery.
  • The nose on the affected side may become congested and runny.

Unlike patients with migraine headaches, patients with cluster headaches tend to be restless. They often pace the floor, bang their heads against a wall, and patients can be driven to desperate measures including contemplating suicide.

Return to Headache

See what others are saying

Comment from: lcb, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 28

I've been getting headaches for over 32 years and after seeing different doctors, I have found that the problem stemmed from my neck. I used to wake every morning with major pain, vomiting, loss of vision and still go to work. Doctors did an MRI on my neck and head and found that I have cervical degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc, cervical stenosis, and arthritis. All of this is due to age and possible falls from my younger years. I had laser spine surgery 3 years ago and things are much better. I still get headaches but not every day! I would suggest to many to have an MRI of your neck done. Many doctors don't understand that some headaches are due to the neck. Good Luck!

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Comment from: rina, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 24

I have been having severe headache since last 31 years. I get auras and vomiting, and very much uneasy. I get headache every other day. I found Zolmist nasal spray. It really helps me.

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Comment from: Rachel, 25-34 (Patient) Published: February 02

I've had CAT scans and MRI. I constantly have headaches, it feels like my brain is splitting in half and I'm not getting any real help. Doctors said I don't have migraines. I can't function, I don't know what to do or where to go.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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