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What Triggers Cluster Migraines?


Woman With Headache


Cluster migraines can be the most painful type of migraines that come on very suddenly without any warning. There are small pockets throughout your head, and even in the eyes, where the pain erupts so that with this type of headache, the pain is felt all over the head but with more intensity in those pockets.

Cluster migraine headaches have symptoms of a severe one-sided repetitive headache often with watery, red eyes and a stuffy nose.

Cluster migraine headache pattern

A pattern usually forms where the migraine will return at the same time each day for several days or even weeks. There will then be a break of perhaps months before the same cluster migraine pattern returns. Of course each sufferer will have a different pattern. Cluster migraines are more common in men and can occur at any age but are more likely in adolescence and middle age.

Cluster migraine headaches can be very debilitating

They affect the quality of life, impacting on careers and even be a prime reason for depression. While research scientists do not know exactly what causes cluster headaches, they believe there is a link to the body's sudden release of histamine or serotonin so that the following may then trigger cluster migraine attacks.

Factors that may trigger an attack include

  • The taking of medications such as nitroglycerine
  • Stress
  • Strong odors
  • Being a heavy smoker and/or alcoholic drinker
  • The continued interruption of your sleeping pattern
  • Problems with the hypothalamus which controls your body's clock
  • High altitudes (for example hiking in high regions or air travel)
  • Bright light (including sunlight or fluorescent lighting)
  • Over exertion during exercise
  • Heat such as very hot weather, hot baths or using a sauna
  • Extreme cold
  • Pressure on nerve endings
  • Foods high in nitrites (such as bacon, preserved meats and other processed proteins)
  • Aged cheese and some wines
  • The use of cocaine

The importance of diagnosis

When suffering from cluster migraine headaches, it is wise to see your doctor for a definite diagnosis and advice regarding treatment as there are several different types of medication available.

The path for treatment you decide to follow will depend upon the severity of your condition. Often one medication is taken regularly during the cluster period to reduce the number of headaches while a second is taken when an attack occurs to relieve the pain. Obviously, it is always safer with any type of prescription drug to use the minimum necessary for an effective result.

Medication side effects can be as great a problem as the condition itself

Be aware of the various triggers that can cause a cluster migraine headache to start and steer clear of them whenever possible. While medication is the most common process for the treatment of cluster migraine, herbal treatments are used by many to dispel the stubborn pain of cluster migraines. One such herb is Vitex Agnus Castus where part of the seed is used – the dosage being half a teaspoon to a cup of water – and it goes to work by resolving the hormonal imbalances while improving fat metabolism and nutrient absorption.

Another alternative to pharmaceutical drugs is a natural product. H-Headaches from Healing Natural Oils which is gentle and safe to use.





Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Headache-Hope-Through-Research. (Accessed, Feb 13, 2021).

Migraine information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Migraine-Information-Page. (Accessed, Feb 13, 2021)

Bajwa ZH, et al. Acute treatment of migraine in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. (Accessed, Feb 13, 2021)

ABC's of headache trigger management. American Migraine Foundation. https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/abcs-of-headache-trigger-management/. (Accessed, Feb 13, 2021)