Cluster headache

  • Cluster headache is a [severe form of headache which occurs in a recurrent and episodic manner, usually on one side of the head, especially around the eye.
  • It is usually very irregular in nature and often occurs unexpectedly, without any warning.

Hypothalamus: Several theories have been proposed so far to explain the role of the hypothalamus in cluster headaches. According to the popular theories, one of the primary functions of the hypothalamus is the regulation of the biological clock. So due to certain malfunctioning of the hypothalamus, this mechanism is disturbed. This explains why Cluster Headache occurs at a particular time of the day.

Genetics: Cluster headaches often run in the families. People suffering from these headaches usually have an immediate family member who has similar problems.

Substance abuse: Addictive and patterned use of certain substances like tobacco has been found to be a major contributor to cluster headaches. Surveys have shown that nearly 65% of the patients are active tobacco smokers.


  • Throbbing or pulsating headache on one side of the head (unilateral), surrounding the region around one eye
  • Persistent pain in the temple (temporal pain)
  • Pain around the eye (orbital pain)
  • Pain above one particular eye (supraorbital pain)
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Reddened conjunctiva
  • Constriction of the pupil
  • Watery eyes
  • A runny nose
  • Profuse sweating
  • Swollen face
  • Facial blushing
  • Depressive behavior and anxiety
  • Restlessness

Cluster headaches are best diagnosed through the brain scans such as MRI, CT scans or PET scans.

There are three treatments that can be taken to relieve the pain. These are:
Sumatriptan injections: This injection can be taken twice a day.
Zolmitriptan or sumatriptan nasal spray: This nasal spray can be taken if you do not want to get an injection.
Oxygen therapy: Here the patient breathes pure oxygen using a face mask.