8 Effective Cluster Headache Treatments For Immediate Relief



Published on: 10-Jun-2024


10 min read




Anvesha Chowdhury


8 Effective Cluster Headache Treatments For Immediate Relief

8 Effective Cluster Headache Treatments For Immediate Relief

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Readers, have you ever been suddenly struck by intense, searing pain around one eye, a pain so severe it disrupts your daily activities and leaves you feeling helpless? This could be a cluster headache.

Popularly known as ‘suicide headaches’, it is a severe problem in the field of neurological disorders as their causes are not definite. Cluster headaches are named because they are characterised by intense, unilateral pain that frequently occurs in cyclical patterns or clusters. They are thought to be related to the hypothalamus or biological clock in the body and triggered by factors such as alcohol, smoking, or certain medications. They may also be connected to the body's unexpected release of serotonin or histamine near the trigeminal nerve.

Cluster headaches significantly impact one's lifestyle, making it challenging to maintain regular routines and affecting overall quality of life. This blog will explore eight effective cluster headache treatments for immediate relief, helping you to alleviate the debilitating symptoms associated with this condition.

Table Of Contents

1. How Do You Get Rid Of A Cluster Headache Fast?

2. Can Cluster Headaches Go Away?

3. Expert’s Advice 

4. The Final Say

5. FAQs

6. References

How Do You Get Rid Of A Cluster Headache Fast?

Here are some relief options you can opt for as effective cluster headache treatment:

1. Acute Relief Options

There are some immediate treatment methods during a cluster headache attack. One effective option is high-flow oxygen therapy. This treatment involves inhaling pure oxygen through a facial mask for a specific duration, typically 15-20 minutes. The increased oxygen concentration in the bloodstream is believed to constrict blood vessels around the brain, alleviating the intense pain.

Additionally, triptans such as sumatriptan can effectively relieve attacks when symptoms occur by constricting dilated blood vessels and lowering brain inflammation to ease headache symptoms.

2. Intranasal Medications

During an attack, intranasal lidocaine or lidocaine plus epinephrine administered through the nose can provide rapid relief. 

Lidocaine is a local anaesthetic that temporarily blocks pain signals transmitted by nerves in the nasal cavity. When administered as a nasal spray, lidocaine targets the sphenopalatine ganglion, a cluster of nerves located deep within the nasal cavity. This ganglion is believed to be involved in the pain pathway of cluster headaches. By numbing these nerves, lidocaine effectively disrupts the pain signal transmission, leading to rapid relief of the excruciating pain.

3. Preventive Medications

The goal of preventive care is to lessen the incidence and intensity of cluster headaches. The calcium channel blocker verapamil is frequently used as a first-line therapy. Lithium, anti-inflammatory drugs such as topiramate, and topical steroids are other choices.

4. Occipital Nerve Stimulation (ONS)

ONS involves surgically implanting a device that sends electrical impulses to the occipital nerve at the back of the head. This treatment alters pain signals and has good results in lowering the frequency and intensity of cluster headaches in resistant cases.

5. Botox Injections

Injections of botulinum toxin type A, also known as Botox, have become popular as a prophylactic for persistent migraines, such as cluster headaches. Botox is injected around the head and neck to target particular muscles and nerves. To lessen headache frequency and intensity, this treatment temporarily paralyses the muscles. Botox can significantly relieve chronic migraine and possibly those with cluster headaches by blocking pain pathways.

6. Psychedelic Therapy

Use psychedelic medications to relieve headaches, such as LSD and psilocybin. Because of their effects on serotonin receptors, several medications have demonstrated encouraging outcomes in cluster headache treatments. Although these medications are currently in clinical testing in India, other countries like Canada and Denmark have shown positive results.

7. Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can add headache medicine. Strategies such as maintaining a regular sleep pattern, managing stress, avoiding alcohol at social gatherings, and identifying and avoiding distractions can help reduce the frequency.

8. Individualised Treatment Plans

Individualised cluster headache treatment plans are crucial, as they tailor therapies to each patient's specific needs and triggers. By assessing the patient's unique medical history, headache patterns, and response to previous treatments, healthcare providers can optimise interventions. This approach may include personalised medication regimens, lifestyle modifications, and specific therapies such as oxygen therapy or nerve blocks, leading to more effective and targeted relief. 

Also Read: Best Tension Type Headache Treatment Options | ToneOp 

Can Cluster Headaches Go Away?

Yes, cluster headaches can go into remission, meaning they can completely disappear for months or even years. The exact reason for this cyclical nature is unknown, but it's believed to be linked to the hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in regulating various bodily functions, including sleep-wake cycles and hormone production. During remission periods, the hypothalamus may be in a state that prevents the cluster headache cycle from triggering.

However, for most people with cluster headaches, these periods of relief are temporary. The headaches tend to recur, though the frequency can vary significantly between individuals. While as of now, there is no cure for cluster headaches, preventive medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. These medications often target the body's inflammatory response or neurotransmitter activity, which are thought to play a role in cluster headache development.

Also Read: Tension-Type Headache: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment!

Expert’s Advice 

Medical research shows that cluster headaches are not curable, but there are ways we can help manage them. One way is to follow deep breathing exercises and add melatonin-rich foods like berries and oats to the diet to reduce the intensity of the pain. The tingling or numbness from cluster headaches can be managed with light exercise like walking or jogging. However, it is best to consult your doctor to devise a personalised treatment plan. 

Dt. Akshata Gandevikar

The Final Say

Cluster headache treatments often involve a multifaceted approach that addresses acute and long-term prevention. By understanding the various treatments and following a management plan, people experiencing cluster headaches can find relief and improve their quality of life.


1. How to break a cluster headache cycle?

The triptan drugs sumatriptan (brand name Imitrex®) and zolmitriptan (brand name Zomig®), which are also used to treat migraines, are utilised as an immediate therapy.

2. Is cluster headaches curable?

No, cluster headaches can be managed but not cured.


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