a man who is suffering from cluster headaches

Cluster Headache Treatments

A cluster headache is a condition in which headaches occur on one area of the head, typically near one of the eyes, and continue for a lengthy period of time.

This consistent pattern of headaches can last anywhere from a week to close to a year before stopping. Once stopped, they won't reappear again for another lengthy period of time.

While there's not a cure for cluster headaches, there are treatment options that can prevent headaches, lessen their severity, or lessen the period of attack. The following will provide you with in-depth details to the available cluster headache treatment options.


The most prevalent cluster headache treatment in use is the inhalation of oxygen. With the usage of a gas mask, patients who inhale 100% oxygen at around 12 liters per minute will feel a huge reduction in pain within 15-20 minutes, though the one downside to this is that an oxygen tank may sometimes need to be carried with you, which can prove to be cumbersome.


Another common form of treatment is an injection known as sumatriptan. This medication is typically used as a means of treating migraines, but it can also be used for cluster headaches. The initial dose of these injections is commonly given under medical care. There is also a nasal spray form of this medication available, though it is generally less effective than its injection counterpart. An intravenous medication known as dihydroergotamine, as well as an injectable medication known as octreotide, have also proven to be relatively effective methods of treatment for a cluster headache.

When you're looking to prevent a cluster headache from recurring in the first place, it's important to begin preventative therapy at the onset of an attack. Ergots are tablets that can be taken before going to bed as a means of stopping attacks during the night, while taking around 10 milligrams of the hormone called melatonin during the evening could reduce the rapidity of attacks. Corticosteriods can sometimes be prescribed as a short term treatment option for those with shorter periods of cluster headaches, while calcium channel blockers are the most common form of preventative treatment for cluster headaches and are usually taken with other medications.


There's also a possibility, though exceedingly rare, that you can use surgery as a means of lessening the pain of cluster headaches. This is done as a last resort by damaging nerve pathways around the eye that are thought to cause pain. However, this treatment can cause general muscle weakness in the face, so you might not want to heavily consider it.

Lifestyle Changes

You can also try making lifestyle changes to treat your cluster headaches. First, avoid alcohol altogether, as this can cause a headache as the cluster period is ongoing. It's also important to keep a routine when it comes to your sleeping patterns, as doing otherwise could induce headaches.

Last Updated: November 21, 2016