Several medications help people with cluster headaches. A doctor can inject the sufferer with drugs called triptans, which ease both cluster headaches and migraines, or with a synthetic hormone called octreotide. Local anesthetics can numb parts of the face. Inhaling pure oxygen often dramatically decreases the grip of cluster headaches within 15 minutes.
The doctor may prescribe a preventive treatment, such as regularly taking calcium channel blockers, lithium carbonate or corticosteroids, which suppress inflammation. However, these medications all have side effects. Taking 10 milligrams of melatonin nightly is a relatively safe intervention that helps some sufferers.
In rare cases, surgeons try to damage nerve pathways around the eyes. Newer treatments involve implanting electrodes in sufferers’ heads to block pain signals.
Because cluster headaches are so intense, the afflicted may feel desperate. Talking to a therapist or joining a support group may provide coping mechanisms.