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What are cluster headaches?

"Cluster headaches," as the name suggests, are headaches that typically occur in groupings over several weeks. They are usually only on one side and can hurt behind the eye, above the eye or in the temporal area. They can last 15 to 180 minutes, occurring up to 8 times a day, every other day or anything in between. They must involve either reddening of the eye, watering of the eye, a stuffy or runny nose, forehead or facial swelling, dilated eye, droopy eye or even swelling of the eyelid, all on the same side usually affected by the pain of the headache.

Cluster headaches are rare. They occur in less than 1 percent of the population, and most cluster headache sufferers are men. Cluster headaches include these symptoms: extremely severe one-sided pain around an eye; pain that lasts from 15 minutes to 3 hours; headaches recur with a frequency ranging from once every other day to 8 times per day. Additional symptoms are typical in cluster headache attacks. Doctors prescribe a variety of prescription medications for treating and preventing cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches, which more commonly affect men, cause headaches that cause pain behind one eye. Cluster headaches do not run in families. While migraines usually concentrate pain on one side of the head or the other, cluster headaches typically cause pain behind one eye or the other.

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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.