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Cluster Headache FAQs (cont.)

Should a person with cluster headaches see a doctor?

Yes. Because of the severity of cluster headaches, the vast majority of people who have them seek medical care very soon. Those who do not must understand that a full evaluation by a doctor is needed to rule out the rare cases of cluster headache -like symptoms that might indicate meningitis (inflammation of the membranes of the brain or spinal cord), subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), or brain tumor.

A doctor should be called if a person has any of the following problems:  

  • A change in frequency, severity, or features of the headaches typically experienced

  • A progressively worsening headache that lasts for days

  • A headache brought on by what doctors call Valsalva maneuvers (coughing, sneezing, bearing down, straining while on the toilet)

  • Unintentional great weight loss

  • Weakness or paralysis that lasts after a headache stops

Persons with any of the following problems should go or be taken to a hospital emergency department:

  • The worst headache of a person’s life, especially if the headache comes on suddenly

  • Headache associated with trauma to the head

  • Trauma to the head with loss of consciousness

  • Fever or stiff neck associated with a headache

  • Decreased level of consciousness or confusion

  • Paralysis on one side of the body

  • Seizures

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