Pediatric Cluster Headache

Pediatric Cluster Headache

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Summary

A cluster headache occurs in a pattern, lasts multiple days and causes severe pain on one side of the head.

Expanded Overview

Children can experience several types of headaches, including clusters of pain that tend to be on the left or right-side of the head or behind one eye. Unlike migraines, cluster headaches occur in groups of five or more attacks, and can occur as one headache every other day. Cluster headaches tend to take place at the same time each day and typically last for about three hours. They can also ache for weeks or months at a time without a break from the pain.

Causes

Cluster headaches normally develop during adolescence (age to 10 to 19*). The exact reason is unknown, but there are several related causes, including:

  • Dehydration – extreme water loss.
  • Environment – triggers can include cigarette smoke, allergies, smog and loud noises.
  • Food or drinks – certain foods have been linked to headaches, such as aged cheeses, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, and soy sauce or other MSG foods.
  • Genetics – headaches can be inherited (passed down) from family members.
  • Hormones — spikes of hormones during puberty (between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and between the ages of 12 and 16 for boys**) cause pain, especially during menstruation (periods).
  • Sleep – a lack of sleep or rest can cause several issues, including headaches.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a cluster headache include:

  • Congestion (stuffy nose)
  • Constricted (small) pupils
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Eye pain
  • Intense, stabbing feeling or pounding in head
  • Pressure in head
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating

*Age of adolescents as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
**Age of puberty is middle childhood to teenage years as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

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