Munson Health
Cluster Headache

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by Wood D


Treatment aims to reduce the frequency of headaches and help relieve pain.


Medications used to treat migraines often relieve sudden attacks of cluster headaches. These drugs must be taken at the first sign of a headache. Other medications may also be prescribed.
In some cases, the headache does not last long enough for medications to be helpful. Sometimes, the medications just delay an attack, rather than stop an attack.
Painkillers, especially narcotic drugs, may not be effective during an acute attack.
Other medications may be given to prevent or reduce the frequency of headaches.

Oxygen Therapy

Breathing 100% oxygen for 10-15 minutes often relieves cluster headache pain. This is often viewed as the front-line therapy for cluster headache. The oxygen appears to decrease blood flow to the affected area of the brain. People under age 50 who have episodic cluster headaches seem to benefit most from oxygen therapy.
Oxygen therapy can be expensive. There are also risks with this therapy.


As a last resort, some doctors may recommend cutting or destroying a facial nerve to eliminate pain.


Sometimes, cluster headaches can be prevented by doing the following:


American Headache Society

National Headache Foundation



Headache Network Canada

Help for Headaches



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