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How are cluster headaches diagnosed?

The International Headache Society (IHS) has established criteria for diagnosing cluster headaches. To meet these official criteria, the headache must have these characteristics:

  • the occurrence of at least five headache attacks
  • Severe one-sided (unilateral) pain in the eye or areas surrounding the eye
  • without treatment, lasts 15 minutes to 3 hours

Furthermore, the headache must be associated with at least one of the following signs on the side that the pain occurs:

  • reddened eyeball
  • excessive tears from the eye
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • facial sweating
  • small pupils
  • lowered upper eyelid
  • eyelids become puffy
Dr. Steven A. Meyers, MD
Diagnostic Radiologist

Cluster headaches tend to strike young adults and men more often than women. African Americans are more at risk than Caucasians. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.