What is cluster headache (CH)?

Updated: Jun 07, 2019
  • Author: Michelle Blanda, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Cluster headache (CH), also known as histamine headache, is a primary neurovascular headache disorder, the pathophysiology and etiology of which are not well understood. [1] As the name suggests, CH involves a grouping of headaches, usually over a period of several weeks. According to the diagnostic criteria developed by the International Headache Society (IHS), CH has the following characteristics: [2, 3]

  • The patient experiences attacks of severe or very severe, strictly unilateral pain (orbital, supraorbital, or temporal pain) that last 15-180 minutes and occur from once every other day to 8 times a day

  • The attacks are associated with 1 or more of the following (all ipsilateral): conjunctival injection, lacrimation, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, forehead and facial sweating, miosis, ptosis, or eyelid edema

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