What is the difference between a migraine and a cluster headache?
Migraines are characterized by disabling attacks often including throbbing/pulsating pain, nausea, sensitivity to light, and the desire to be in a dark quiet room. In contrast, cluster headaches are characterized by incredibly severe pain in and around one eye with drooping of the eyelid on the affected side, tearing, nasal congestion, and the sufferer is agitated, pacing, and may even be hitting their head against the wall. In fact, cluster has often been referred to as the “suicide headache” due to its severity. Migraine is much more common than cluster and it tends to be recurrent throughout the year. In contrast, cluster, as the name implies, often clusters together during certain times of the year and may go away for months at a time. Unlike migraine, cluster is much more common in men. Treatment is different for migraine and cluster, so proper diagnosis and evaluation is important. We treat both in our practice.