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General informationHeadache on one side of head is known as cluster headache. This neurological disease is rare and nearly 0.1% of population suffers from it. Cluster headache usually affects men more then women, often among adolescence and middle age while heavy smokers are the most affected.

This condition is chronic and lasts for several weeks. It can occur periodically. Cluster headache differs from other types of headaches such as barometric pressure headache, neck tension headache, stress headache, and headache at the top of head.

Causes of cluster headache are unknown and the condition isn’t hereditary. Known fact is that cluster headache is associated with histamine and serotonin release in the body.

Often it isn’t diagnosed for years or can be confused with migraine.


Cluster headache begins with severe and abrupt sharp pain on one side of head. It is located in eye area and occurs in first two or tree hours of sleep which is known as REM phase that is characterized with rapid eye movement.

This pain can spread from neck to temple, becomes stronger with time and can last from thirty minutes to two hours. The affected eye swells, becomes red and secrets excessive amount of tears. Apart from this, face becomes red and the nose can become blocked on side of the pain or person may experience rhinorrea.

Additionally, the pain is notably stronger then migraine and female patients claim that it is much worse then childbirth. It is considered to be the most painful condition in medicine.


There isn’t actual cure for this condition but it can be relieved in several ways. Analgesics are not given since they need time to start to work and they generally don’t have any effect on cluster headache pain. But common solutions are antihistamines, lithium carbonate, calcium channel blockers, propranolol, Indomethacin, cyproheptadine, amitriptyline and verapamil. Often is recommended inhalation of 100% oxygen.

On the other hand, these medications can have serious side effects hence if you have symptoms like numbs and tingling in toes and fingers, chest pain and altered heart beat rate you need to seek for physician’s help. In some cases a patient has to undergo surgical procedure.

Prevention may include quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol as well as changing life style. Anything that may trigger cluster headache must be avoided. Triggers may be certain foods like chocolate or banana, perfume, monosodium glutamate and sometimes even sex and orgasms. In some patients lack of sleep can trigger cluster headache whilst in others napping can be the cause.

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