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Cluster headaches are a type of vascular headache, similar to migraines. They are far more painful and in fact, are the rarest kind of headaches, and one of the most painful conditions known in medicine. Its most prominent symptom is intensely excruciating and one-sided pain in the area behind the eye and temple region. "Cluster" refers to the tendency of these headaches to occur periodically, with active periods interrupted by spontaneous remissions. Some patients do not have remission periods. The headaches can last anywhere from 15–180 minutes and, in severe cases can occur many times a day. Cluster headaches can be genetic; however, when they are, the carrier of the gene may be asymptomatic until or unless they suffer a severe head trauma. Other details concerning the causes and any potential cures are unknown. Such a rare syndrome isn't considered a priority for research by pharmaceutical companies, since the investment in researching and developing a drug specifically for cluster headaches would cost far more than the return in drug sales.
Cluster headaches can have different symptoms. Most patients get restless or agitated during an attack, unlike migraine patients who usually would prefer to stay calm and lie down in a dark room. Other symptoms can be a runny nose, nasal congestion and/or a red and/or tearing eye on the side of the headache.
- The International Headache Society (IHS): 2nd Edition of The International Headache Classification (ICHD-2) - 3.1 Cluster Headache
- Diagnosis and treatment from National Guideline Clearinghouse (DHHS)
- A. May, M. Leone, J. Áfra, M. Linde, P. S. Sándor, S. Evers, P. J. Goadsby: EFNS guidelines on the treatment of cluster headache and other trigeminalautonomic cephalalgias. European Journal of Neurology. 2006; 13: 1066–1077. PMID 16987158. Free full text (PDF)
- Leroux E, Ducros A: Cluster headache. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2008 Jul 23;3:20. PMID 18651939
- Organization for Understanding Cluster Headaches (O.U.C.H.)