What Are Cluster Headaches?

Jan 18, 2024
Headaches of any type can cause incredible pain. Though rare, cluster headaches can be agonizing. Take a moment to learn more about cluster headaches, and find out how we can help.

Cluster headaches are excruciatingly painful, affecting less than 1% of the population. These headaches are distinct from migraines and other types of headaches because of their specific patterns, intensity, and duration.

Here at New England Institute for Neurology and Headache in Stamford, Connecticut, our team is highly specialized in understanding the different types of headaches, diagnosing them, and treating them effectively.

In this blog, we want to help you understand more about cluster headaches — a rare type of headache that can be a debilitating neurological condition.

Cluster headaches explained

Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns that can last weeks or months, followed by periods of remission. During the active phases of these headaches, you can experience intense, piercing pain typically localized around one of your eyes or the side of your head, sometimes extending to your temple, forehead, or neck.

Lasting between 15 minutes to three hours, these headaches are often accompanied by symptoms, such as:

  • Eye redness
  • Tearing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Restlessness

You can also experience multiple attacks in a day, sometimes at the same time every day or night.

Causes and triggers

Though the exact cause remains unclear, certain triggers can induce these episodes, which may include:

  • Hypothalamus dysfunction
  • Hormonal fluctuations during puberty or menopause
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Taking specific medications that dilate blood vessels 

Our team has the expertise to identify the root cause of your headaches.

Impact on daily life

Unfortunately, cluster headaches can hurt your quality of life. The intense pain and unpredictable nature of the attacks can interfere with your work, social activities, and relationships. The emotional toll of living with a condition that's often misunderstood or misdiagnosed can also be overwhelming.

The good news is that you can rely on our team to create a personalized plan to give you the relief you need.

Treatment and management

At New England Institute for Neurology and Headache, we provide numerous treatments. For example, after your comprehensive evaluation, we may recommend ketamine infusions, Botox® injections, or neurostimulation — which are only a few of the options we provide.

During your consultation, we explain our recommendation for your condition, which may also include stress management techniques and nutritional guidance.

In addition, we may suggest making lifestyle adjustments, such as avoiding triggers like drinking alcohol, smoking, and eating certain foods, to aid in prevention.

If you experience symptoms of cluster headaches, we can help. Call our friendly staff at 203-914-1900 today, or click here to request an appointment at our practice. We can provide an accurate diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan to help manage your cluster headaches effectively.