Health Information

 

 

Cluster Headaches: Conditions With Similar Symptoms

Topic Overview

In general, headaches have many causes, including tension or changes to blood vessels (vascular changes). But only a few other conditions have symptoms that are similar to cluster headaches, such as:

  • Migraine headaches , which cause one-sided pain in the head, face, and neck. But while migraine pain starts on one side of the head, it may spread to the entire head—something a cluster headache does not do. Also, migraine auras, such as seeing bright lights or wavy lines prior to getting the headache, do not usually occur in cluster headaches. Cluster headaches usually appear suddenly without warning.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia , which causes sudden, one-sided, intense facial pain. This pain usually lasts for only a few seconds to a couple of minutes but can also be a long-term problem.
  • Chronic paroxysmal hemicrania (CPH), which also causes short headache attacks, but mostly in women. Unlike cluster headaches, CPH responds well to a medicine called indomethacin, which can help the doctor tell the difference between CPH and cluster headaches.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last Revised January 27, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.