Cluster Headache FAQs (cont.)
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What causes cluster headaches?
No one knows exactly what causes cluster headaches, although many theories have been put forth. They are probably caused by complex, interacting abnormalities in the blood vessels, nerves, and chemicals in the head, brain, and face.
Many experts believe that cluster headache and migraine headache share a common cause that begins in the trigeminal nerve, which is the nerve that carries sensation about the head, brain, and face, and ends with the blood vessels surrounding the brain. Other authorities believe that cluster headache pain comes from within the deep vascular channels in the head (for example, the cavernous sinus) and does not involve the trigeminal system.
Cluster headaches have been reported to affect many members of the same family. This suggests that some people might have an inborn tendency to get this type of headache.
Cluster headaches may be triggered by stress, relaxation, extreme temperatures, glare, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and sexual activity. Eating certain foods may sometimes cause them. Using alcohol- or tobacco-containing products worsens cluster headaches.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/22/2014
Edward Lubin, MD, PhD
Joseph Carcione Jr, DO, MBA
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
James H Halsey, MD
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