Symptoms of a Cluster Headache
A cluster headache is often characterized by pain or pressure that begins around one eye or temple and eventually spreads to that side of the face. Cluster headaches are often described as constant, deep, excruciating pain, although the pain may occasionally be described as throbbing. Other symptoms include runny nose, droopy eyelid, and nausea. Cluster headache symptoms generally last 30 to 45 minutes, but can last up to four hours.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Cluster Headache?
Cluster headaches may begin as a minor pain or pressure around one eye or temple. They may also begin as a burning sensation on the nose. The pain quickly intensifies over several minutes, eventually spreading to that side of the face. A cluster headache is often described as constant, deep, excruciating pain, although occasionally it may be pulsatile and throbbing. The pain is always on one side of the head.
The intense pain of a cluster headache often compels the victim to pace the floor or rock in a chair. This differs from a migraine attack, where the person wants to curl up into bed and be still.
Other symptoms of cluster headaches may include:
- Stuffed and runny nose
- Droopy eyelid
- Sweating forehead
- Pale appearance
- Red, tearing eye
Restlessness and agitation.
How Long Do the Symptoms Last?
Cluster headache symptoms usually last between 30 and 45 minutes, but can last up to four hours. However, the relief people feel at the end of an attack is usually mixed with dread as they await a recurrence. A person with cluster headaches may have up to eight episodes per day, with most having one to three per day.
Cluster headaches are named for their repeated occurrence over weeks or months at roughly the same time of day or night in clusters. When the cluster series is over, cluster headaches may disappear for months or years. Many people have cluster bouts during the spring and fall. At their worst, chronic cluster headaches can last continuously for years.
Cluster headaches can strike at any age, but usually start between the ages of 20 and 40. Unlike migraine headaches, cluster headaches are more common in men.