Cluster Headache (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Cluster Headache Symptoms and Signs
The pain of cluster headache is its defining and most dramatic symptom (feature). This pain comes on without warning (no forewarning symptoms such as the aura in classic migraine) and may begin as a burning sensation on the side of the patient's nose or deep in the eye.
The pain peaks in just a few minutes. Patients describe the feeling as having an ice pick driven through their eye. They use words such as "excruciating," "explosive," and "deep." This stabbing eye pain carries with it a rapid electrical-shock like element, which may last for a few seconds, and a deeper element that continues for a half-hour or longer. The pain almost always begins in your eye and always on 1 side of your face. Interestingly, for most patients the pain stays on the same side of the face from cluster to cluster, while in a small minority the pain switches to the opposite side during the next cluster.
In addition to its one-sidedness, other characteristics, symptoms, and signs that separate cluster headaches from other headaches include:
When Should I Call a Doctor or Other Health Care Professional for Treatment?
Notify your doctor or other medical health care professional in these situations.
Seek immediate medical attention or go to a hospital's emergency department under the following circumstances:
Are There Tests To Diagnose This Type of Headache?
The doctor or other medical health care professional also may order a lumbar puncture ("spinal tap"). This may help to establish if the cause of the headache is from an infection, or from bleeding in or around the patient's brain.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/18/2017
Edward Lubin, MD, PhD
Joseph Carcione Jr, DO, MBA
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