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


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Karin M. Lindholm, DO – Neurology

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017