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Cluster Headache FAQs (cont.)

Will cluster headaches eventually go away on their own?

Cluster headaches sometimes resolve on their own, but they are usually a lifelong problem. Drug treatment plays a part in changing chronic headaches into episodic ones; otherwise, the drugs available today provide incomplete long-term relief.

Eighty percent of people with episodic cluster headaches tend to keep that variety, eventually changing to the chronic form in only 4-13% of cases. Mixed forms sometimes occur. Prolonged, spontaneous remissions (long headache-free periods that occur for unknown reasons) have occurred in up to 12% of subjects in some studies, particularly in those with episodic cluster headaches. Chronic cluster headaches are more stubborn and may persist in this form in up to 55% of those who have them. Much less frequently, the chronic form changes to the episodic form.

People whose chronic headaches start later in life tend to have less favorable outcomes. Males and those with a history of episodic cluster headaches preceding the chronic type also have less favorable outcomes.

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