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27 What to Tell Patients About Cluster Headache


Headache disorders are real – they are not just in the mind.

This chapter summarizes information suitable for communication to cluster headache patients on types, symptoms, causes, triggers, and treatment strategies. The information is aimed at helping them to understand their headache, their diagnosis, and their treatment, and to work with their health-care provider in a way that will get best results for them.


Cluster headache is the name given to short-lasting attacks of very severe one-sided head pain, usually in or around the eye. These usually start without warning, one or more times every day, generally at the same times each day or during the night. Quite often, the first one will wake the person up an hour or so after falling asleep.

Cluster headache is sometimes said to be a type of migraine, but this is not so. It is a quite distinct headache and needs different treatment from migraine.