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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Cluster Headaches: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Headache

Cluster Headaches

Cluster Headaches | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Some cluster headaches improve when the person inhales oxygen for a short period of time. The healthcare provider may also prescribe two types of medications. Preventive medications are used to prevent cluster headaches. Other medications are used to treat a cluster headache once it develops.

Preventive medications include the following:

  • calcium channel blockers, such as verapamil
  • corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • lithium
  • methysergide
  • Following are some of the medications that can be used during a cluster headache:

  • dihydroergotamine, which is inhaled as a spray up the nose
  • ergotamine, which may be inhaled, injected, or inserted rectally
  • a local anesthetic, which is inhaled up the nose
  • sumatriptan, which is injected under the skin
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Many of the medications used to treat cluster headaches cause an increase in blood pressure. Corticosteroids may cause increased risk of infection, osteoporosis, and bleeding. Lithium may cause increased thirst and urination. It may also cause nausea and trembling of the hands. Calcium channel blockers may significantly increase a person's risk for stroke and heart attack. Methysergide can cause a hardening of the lung tissue.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    Preventive medications usually do a good job of reducing the number of cluster headaches. Medications given during the headache can reduce the pain and shorten the length of the headache.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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    Cluster Headaches: Prevention & Expectations


    Author: Michael Curiel, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 05/04/01

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