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Cluster Headaches
(NR019)

Introduction


Cluster Headaches (CH) affect approximately 0.1-0.4% of the general population, and 8-10% of all persons who suffer from headaches. The most commonly occur in men between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age. Persons who suffer from CH tend to be sociable, active and responsible. For this reason, CH are sometimes called "the executive headache".

CH is one of the most severe forms of headache. The underlying cause is still poorly understood. It is thought that the pain may be related to the dilation of blood vessels or to inflammation of nerves behind the eye.

Cluster headaches are so called because of the pattern of attacks. Episodic CH consists of "active" or "on" periods that may last for days to months, during which headaches may occur every other day or as frequently as 8 times per day. Headache-free remissions may last months to several years. During "active" periods, attacks may be triggered by a variety of factors.

The goals of care are the control of pain in acute attacks, prevention of recurrences and minimization of impact on daily functioning. Treatment usually consists of medication, but may require nerve injection, radiofrequency therapy or oxygen therapy.

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