Cluster Headache (cont.)
Self-Care at Home
You can treat cluster headache at home under a doctor's care. Treatment involves 2 types of care, and many people require both at the same time:
- Preventive treatment: This includes ongoing use of medications proven effective in holding off headaches or limiting their number, even when you are not experiencing headaches. Examples are drugs like beta-blockers (propranolol [Inderal], atenolol [Tenormin]), anticonvulsants (topiramate [Topamax], divalproex [Depakote], carbamazepine [Tegretol]), tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline [Elavil], nortriptyline [Aventyl]), and calcium channel blockers (verapamil [Covera]). Though widely used, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressant (fluoxetine [Prozac], paroxetine [Paxil], escitalopram [Lexapro]) is relatively ineffective for headache.
- Abortive treatment: This is designed to stop a headache once it has begun. Medications include ergotamine (Bellamine, Cafergot), acetaminophen-isometheptene-dichloralphenazone (Midrin), dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45 Injection, Migranal Nasal Spray), and more recently, the drugs of the triptan family (almotriptan [Axert], eletriptan [Relpax], frovatriptan [Frova], naratriptan [Amerge], rizatriptan [Maxalt], sumatriptan [Imitrex], zolmitriptan [Zomig]).
- In addition, many medications used to treat migraine headache (Excedrin Migraine Pain Reliever/Pain Reliever Aid, oxygen, prednisone [Deltasone]) can also be used for cluster headache.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/19/2014
Joseph Carcione Jr, DO, MBA
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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