Cluster Headache Diagnosis

When making a cluster headache diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask several questions about your symptoms, possible headache triggers, and your family history of headaches, among other things. Your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam that may point to other possible causes of the headache. In some cases, he or she may also recommend certain tests to help determine the cause of the headache.

An Overview of Diagnosing Cluster Headaches

In order to make a diagnosis of cluster headaches, your healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions, including questions about:
 
  • The headache, such as how often you have headaches or where the pain is
  • Other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, vision or hearing problems, weight loss, fever or chills, runny nose, tearing, and shortness of breath
  • Possible triggers
  • Conditions that make the headache better
  • Any symptoms that might occur before the headache begins
  • Any medical conditions, including high blood pressure (hypertension), glaucoma, or shingles
  • Any medicines that you are taking
  • A family history of headaches
  • Any personal history of headaches
  • Whether you smoke or drink alcohol
  • Any recent trauma.
     
He or she will also perform a physical exam, looking for any signs that may point to other possible causes of the headaches (see Causes of Headaches).
 

Tests Used When Making a Diagnosis of Cluster Headaches

There are no tests that are routinely recommended to help diagnose cluster headaches. However, depending on your particular situation, your healthcare provider may recommend certain tests to help rule out other headache causes. This may include a blood test, imaging tests (such as an MRI or CT scan), or vision tests.
 
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Cluster Headache

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