What Is A Cluster Headache?

Woman cluster headache

Cluster headaches, despite being quite rare, are considered to be among the most painful conditions you can experience. Cluster headaches are rare and less than 3% of people who suffer from them have migraines or other painful headaches. Cluster headaches are often described as worse than migraines, and some women say they are more painful than giving birth.

Cluster Headaches

These are often described as a stabbing pain near the temple or behind one eye. Cluster headaches are characterized by the fact that they often occur at a particular time of day, last for about an hour, then return the next day at the same time. This pattern can continue for weeks or even months. Cluster headaches are more common than migraines, which can be preceded by flashing lights and symptoms.

Although it is not clear why cluster headaches occur, scientists believe it is due to an abnormality in the Hypothalamus gland. This gland controls the body’s biological clock. It is also affected by changes in the length and other factors.


Cluster headaches and migraines are also distinguished by the gender of their sufferers. About three quarters of the 28 million migraine sufferers in the US are women, and only one quarter are men. Cluster headaches affect approximately 8 of 10 people. Cluster headaches can be caused by either migraines or normal headaches.

Even miracle drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are not effective. Inhaling pure oxygen has been shown to be quite effective. Although this cannot be done until the headache starts, inhaling pure oxygen for a few moments can often help.


Cluster headaches are so common, it would be beneficial to have some preventative medication that could easily be taken before the headaches hit. Unfortunately, because cluster headaches are so rare and poorly understood, we don’t know if any drugs might be effective in preventative treatment.