Cluster headache has been called one of the worst pains known to man.2 There are 2 types of cluster headache: episodic and chronic.* Most sufferers—80% to 90%—have episodic cluster headache.1,2
Episodic cluster headache means that patients have periods of time when they have 1 to 8 attacks per day—often at the same time of day—followed by headache-free periods that can last a month or longer. Typically, a patient has 1 headache period per year, often at the same time each year.2
Despite the debilitating nature of cluster headache, many patients are not optimally treated with current options, and they need new treatments.1,3
An attack causes a severe, stabbing pain on one side of the head, usually around or behind the eye area. The pain quickly becomes extremely severe or unbearable and lasts about 15 to 180 minutes.2
In addition to severe pain, other symptoms can also occur, including2:
- Red, watery eyes
- Eyelid drooping or swelling
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
- Forehead and facial swelling
- Agitation and the urge to move around
There is no medical test that shows you have cluster headache. The doctor takes a very detailed history of your symptoms and may send you for an MRI or CT scan to rule out other possible causes of your pain.2
Because cluster headache is not very common (affecting about 1 to 2 people in every 1,000 people), patients are usually referred to a specialist or headache clinic.4
For more information about cluster headache and to find support, visit ClusterBusters.org.
- Robbins MS, Starling AJ, Pringsheim TM, Becker WJ, Schwedt TJ. Treatment of cluster headache: the American Headache Society evidence-based guidelines. Headache. 2016;56(7):1093-1106.
- Rossi P, Whelan J, Craven A, Ruiz De La Torre E. What is cluster headache? Fact sheet for patients and their families. A publication to mark Cluster Headache Day 2016. Funct Neurol. 2016;31(3):181-183.
- Levin M. Vagus nerve stimulation for the acute treatment of cluster headache. Headache. 2016;56(8):1251-1252.
- Cluster headache. The Migraine Trust website. https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/types-of-migraine/other-headache-disorders/cluster-headache/. Accessed April 12, 2017.
- gammaCore Instructions for Use. Basking Ridge, NJ: electroCore; 2017.