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Cluster headache is an unusual headache found more commonly in men than women. The pain is localised to one eye or the other. It comes in bouts of pain over a six to eight week period. The pain usually lasts from twenty minutes to two hours. The pain is very severe. People want to walk around rather than lie down as in migraine. The eye waters, the nose runs and the eye may look red and the eyelid droops. Patients with the condition say that this is amongst the worst pain they have ever experienced.
The cause of cluster headache is just not known. Proper management of cluster headache needs specialist referral to an interested neurologist who has a particular interest in headache syndromes.
A short course of high dose steroids is very effective in switching off the pain. A prophylactic agent needs to be introduced at the same time. There are a number of acute treatments including the use of 60% oxygen breathed from an oxygen cylinder at home when the attack starts. There are a host of other treatments that can be tried and usually most people will get good control of their pain when they find the appropriate treatment regime. There are a very small number of individuals who get chronic cluster headache which can be more difficult to treat.