by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A cluster headache is severe pain that on one side of the head. The pain comes and goes in groups called clusters.
There are two main types:
Either type of headache may switch to the other type.
The exact cause is not known.
Some triggers may be:
This problem often starts in people who are 10 to 39 years of age. It is more common in men. Other things that may raise the risk are:
A person may have an aura before the headache starts. This may include vision problems or abnormal sensations.
The main problem is sharp, piercing, or throbbing pain that:
During the headache, a person may also have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked about the frequency and pattern of your headaches. Physical and neurological exams will be done.
Images of the brain may be taken. This can be done with:
There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and reduce the frequency of headaches. Options are:
People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery. This is not common and can also result in side effects.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Headache Society
National Headache Foundation
Cluster headache. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/cluster-headache. Accessed July 20, 2021.
Headache information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Headache-Information-Page. Accessed July 20, 2021.
Suri H, Ailani J. Cluster headache: a review and update in treatment. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2021;21(7):31.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 7/20/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.