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Living with Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches, often accepted as the most severe and painful type of headache, are significantly debilitating and extremely painful to sufferers. They are characterized by frequent attacks that are one-sided, lasting 15 minutes to several hours. The headaches occur in a “cluster” period, usually lasting from two weeks to three months, followed by a remission period of no headaches at all. Cluster headaches can be so painful that they can interfere with one’s normal routine, sleep, work schedule and daily activities. In fact, many people refer to them as “suicide headaches” due to the unremitting pain.

Common symptoms of cluster headaches include:

  • Severe burning or sharp, piercing pain on one side of the head, spreading from the temple and eye
  • Red, watery and puffy eyes with eyelid droop
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • A sense of restlessness or agitation

"While there is no cure for cluster headaches, nor can anything be done to prevent a cycle of cluster headaches from starting, the good news is that as soon as a cycle is about to start, taking appropriate medication can help prevent more headaches or reduce the number of headaches during a cluster cycle," says Noah Rosen, MD, Director of the Headache Center at Cushing Neuroscience Institute. "Avoiding certain triggers such as alcohol, smoking and stress-related activities can also make the cluster cycle much more bearable." 

Make an appointment at the Headache Center:
Cushing Neuroscience Institute’s Headache Center makes it easy for you to take the first steps in ensuring the best neurological and neurosurgical care for yourself or your family. Simply fill out our Request an Appointment form, email us at or call us at (516) 325-7070.