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Cluster Headaches in Children


Cluster headaches occur in a pattern lasting multiple days. This type of headache typically causes pain on one side of the head or behind one eye. A cluster headache will occur in groups of at least five attacks, with the attacks happening at the same time each day and lasting up to three hours (15 minutes to 3 hours).

Causes of Cluster Headaches

While the exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, there are factors that may increase the chance of experiencing a cluster headache such as:

  • Consuming certain food or drinks
  • Dehydration
  • Genetics
  • Lack of sleep
  • Spike in hormones

Symptoms of Cluster Headaches

There are multiple signs or symptoms a cluster headache is coming or has already arrived. A cluster headache is typically accompanied by a sharp, stabbing pain on one side of the head. It can be accompanied by:

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Droopy eyelids or eye pain
  • Sweating

Treatment for Cluster Headaches

Once a doctor has confirmed the symptoms an individual is experiencing is a cluster headache, treatment will start. Treatment may include taking medicine or oxygen to ease pain or help stop the headache altogether.

It is important to note that over-the-counter pain killers, such as ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen, typically do not work to relieve cluster headaches.

If you are concerned about your child's headaches, talk to your child's pediatrician. Parents can also refer their child directly to Boys Town Pediatric Neurology by calling (531) 355-7420.

Dr. Madhav Bandatmakur, Pediatric Neurologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital, explains the symptoms of Cluster Headaches, treatment options and when you should seek a specialist for the care of your child.

Pediatric Neurology