Written by Avinash Ramani, M.S. (Biotechnology)  | 
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nithin Jayan, MBBS, DNB on Feb 24, 2014


Cluster Headache is one-sided, periodic, repetitive head pain that involves tearing of eyes and clogged nose. Cluster Headache is often deep, constant, agonizing and explosive pain that begins without any warning and progresses to its climax within a few minutes. Cluster Headaches are more intensely painful than migraine or other kinds of headaches. The strongest pain may last 30 minutes to 2 hours. Cluster headaches and can usually wake up a person from sleep within two to three hours after going to bed, as these night attacks are more common, and are more intense than daytime attacks.

Cluster Headache

In cluster headache, the pain mostly begins in and around eyes or temple (either side of the forehead close to the eyes); although rarely the pain can originate from face / cheek, neck, ear, or hemicranium.

A typical episode of a cluster headache occurs one to three times a day over a period of time, called the cluster period that can last from two weeks to several months. Cluster episodes are usually separated by a long, pain-free periods that can last over a month in-between. Some Cluster Headaches recur periodically, around the same time or same season of a year, while others could be chronic cluster headaches.

Cluster Headaches tend to pass down genetically in families. Most patients with cluster headache prefer to stay active when an attack is in progress, in contrast to migraine sufferers who tend to rest in a dark, quiet room.

Types of Cluster Headache

There are two types of cluster headache, episodic or chronic (long-term).

  • Episodic - Episodic Cluster headaches are separated by headache-free periods lasting for one month or more. In some cases, Episodic Clusters may occur only for a few weeks in a particular season, every year.
Cluster Headaches Episodic
  • Chronic - Chronic Cluster headaches are separated by very brief headache-free periods of less than one month, or even not separated at all.

About 10% of cluster headaches are chronic.


  1. Cluster headache - (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000786.htm)
  2. Cluster Headache FAQs - (http://www.emedicinehealth.com/cluster_headache_faqs/article_em.htm)

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