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29 Nov 2005

Cluster headaches
My brother-in-law suffers so severely from cluster headaches that they consume his life. Someone suggested that he take cocaine for this. He tried it and it takes the headaches away completely. I know this sounds terrible but it is betterthan him taking his life. Is their any other remedie for this?
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Headache expert
Headache expert

01 Jan 0001

Dear Heather,

Cluster headaches, like other primary headaches, have causes that can often be identified and treated, often without the use of drugs. Even when drugs are necessary, it is better to use preventive medications than to use “rescue” medication when an attack strikes.

With other types of headache, the correct approach is to treat with a step-by-step approach. Once the underlying cause/s of the headache have been identified, the most conservative treatment is used first. If good results are not achieved with conservative treatment, one goes to the next step, and so forth.

With cluster however, the pain is so severe that one cannot afford the luxury of a prolonged treatment plan. Rather, the problem is dealt with by using multiple therapies together, so that one has the best chance of aborting the cluster. These multiple therapies are best carried out by an integrated multidisciplinary team, so that the treatments can be co-ordinated. There are many different structures in the head and neck, all of which may be involved, and no single specialist has all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For this reason, the combined the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, is co-ordinated into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables a more comprehensive treatment plan, in which all the contributing factors are addressed.

One of the best resources available to cluster headache sufferers is an international support community on the internet. You can locate this community at They are incredibly knowledgeable and give you both guidance and support free of charge.

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic on 0861 678 911.
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