|Symptoms||Recurrent, severe |
|Usual onset||20 to 40 years old|
|Duration||15 min to 3 hrs|
|Based on symptoms|
|Frequency||~0.1% at some point in time|
Cluster headache (CH) is a
The cause is unknown. Risk factors include a history of exposure to
Recommended management includes lifestyle changes such as avoiding potential triggers. Treatments for acute attacks include
The condition affects about 0.1% of the general population at some point in their life and 0.05% in any given year. The condition usually first occurs between 20 and 40 years of age. Men are affected about four times more often than women. Cluster headaches are named for the occurrence of groups of headache attacks (clusters). They have also been referred to as "suicide headaches".
Cluster headaches are recurring bouts of excruciating unilateral headache attacks of extreme intensity. The duration of a typical CH attack ranges from about 15 to 180 minutes. Most untreated attacks (about 75%) last less than 60 minutes.
The onset of an attack is rapid and most often without preliminary signs that are characteristic in
The pain occurs only on one side of the head (unilateral), around the eye (orbital), particularly above the eye (supraorbital), in the temple (temporal), or in any combination. The pain of CH attack is remarkably greater than in other headache conditions, including severe
The typical symptoms of cluster headache include grouped occurrence and recurrence (cluster) of headache attack, severe unilateral orbital, supraorbital and/or temporal pain. If left untreated, attack frequency may range from one attack every two days to eight attacks per day. Cluster headache attack is accompanied by at least one of the following autonomic symptoms:
Restlessness (for example, pacing or rocking back and forth) may occur. Similar to a migraine, sensitivity to light (
People with CH may dread facing another headache and adjust their physical or social activities around a possible future occurrence. Likewise they may seek assistance to accomplish what would otherwise be normal tasks. They may hesitate to make plans because of the regularity, or conversely, the unpredictability of the pain schedule. These factors can lead to generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorder, serious depressive disorders, social withdrawal and isolation.
Cluster headaches may occasionally be referred to as "alarm clock headache" because of the regularity of their recurrence. CH attacks often awaken individuals from sleep. Both individual attacks and the cluster grouping can have a metronomic regularity; attacks typically striking at a precise time of day each morning or night. The recurrence of headache cluster grouping may occur more often around solstices, or seasonal changes, sometimes showing circannual periodicity. Conversely, attack frequency may be highly unpredictable, showing no periodicity at all. These observations have prompted researchers to speculate an involvement, or dysfunction of the hypothalamus. The Hypothalamus controls the body's "biological clock" and
In accordance with the International Headache Society (IHS) diagnostic criteria, cluster headaches occurring in two or more cluster periods, lasting from 7 to 365 days with a pain-free remission of one month or longer between the headache attacks, may be classified as episodic. If headache attacks occur for more than a year without pain-free remission of at least one month, the condition is classified as chronic. Chronic CH both occurs and recurs without any remission periods between cycles; there may be variation in cycles, meaning the frequency and severity of attacks may change without predictability for a period of time. The frequency, severity and duration of headache attacks experienced by people during these cycles varies between individuals and does not demonstrate complete remission of the episodic form. The condition may change unpredictably, from chronic to episodic and from episodic to chronic.