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Cluster Headache Treatment Different Options For Cluster Headache Relief

Before we can discuss the different possible treatments for cluster headaches, we need to make sure you know what cluster headaches really are. Cluster headaches are also known as "suicide headaches", they are the most painful headaches you can have. The headaches will occur in clusters that can go on for up to 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes even longer. When you have cluster headaches, you will recognize it with these symptoms: the headaches will be very severe and around one eye or the temple area. The duration can vary between fifteen minutes to three hours, up to 8 times a day and this for several weeks.

Cluster headache treatment options

At this day there aren't many options to treat cluster headaches. One of the best abortive treatment is the inhalation of 100% oxygen. When you use pure oxygen the headache can go away in as little as 5 minutes. The downside is that you need to have oxygen ready at any time.

Over-the-counter medicine isn't considered to be very effective in treating cluster headaches. Most of the patients will have tried different prescriptions and will tell you that none of them was able to remove the pain. The main factor for this is that these drugs don't work fast enough. The headache will be gone before the drug starts working.

For cluster headaches only a small quantity of treatments will be helpful. The goal lies with helping to decrease the severity of the pain and shorten the period. Because of the, sometimes, short attack, acute medications must be fast-acting and delivered quickly after the attack start.

What do acute treatments include?

The first, most important, acute treatment is oxygen. Briefly inhaling 100% oxygen will provide relief for most who use it. You need to inhale the oxygen through a mask at a rate of 6 to 8 liters a minute, in some cases a higher flow rate may be find to be more effective. The normal time between the start of the inhalation and the relief of the pain will be between 15 minutes. But like I said, the downside is that you need to have oxygen ready at any time. You need to carry an oxygen cylinder and regulator with you. This makes that the treatment is inconvenient and sometimes even inaccessible. The other downside is, that it only delays and doesn't stop the attack. They pain may return.

Another possible treatment option is sumatriptan. In injectable form it is commonly used to treat normal migraine attacks. There are some cluster headache sufferers who benefit from using sumatriptan in nasal spray form. It is not recommended to people with uncontrolled high blood pressure or ischemic hearth disease.

A third treatment option is dihydroergotamine. This is an ergo derivative and is available in intravenous, injectable and inhaler forms. For some people with cluster headaches this is found to be an effective pain reliever. The fastest way to find relief with dihydroergotamine is with the intravenous option. But you need to go to a hospital or doctor's office to have an IV line placed. The inhaler form of the drug works more slowly. You need to limit the dosage to avoid side effects.


People who suffer from chronic cluster headaches and that don't respond well to aggressive treatment are often recommended to have surgery. It is only recommended to people that have the pain at one side of the head because the surgery can be performed only once.

Potential treatment

Researchers are still learning more about the causes of the cluster headache. This will help to develop more specific treatment for the condition.

Although definitive treatment for cluster headaches is still far away, we are able to control to pain in most of the cases. Hopefully in a not so far future we will have learned enough so we can make the pain go forever.
About Author Leslie Bogaerts :

Make sure to visit my blog on Cluster Headache Treatment for helpful tips and advice on Cluster Headaches, Cluster Headache Triggers and much more!

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Article Added on Saturday, January 3, 2009
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