Is My Dr. Wrong About Cluster Headache Treatments?

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I'm a 23 yr old female and I've just been diagnosed with cluster headaches.

My Dr. said I just had to put up with the pain and to take Nurofen when it gets too much which doesnt seem to help.

The first thing I did when I had the chance was to look up cluster headaches and treatment on the internet, and it said that sumatriptan injections should be used as a first line treatment, so I rang my Dr. up and he told me that they were only used for migraines and they wouldnt work for me.

He has prescribed one tablet for me to try but I havent had it from the chemist yet.

Just wanted to know if it's worked for anyone else and shouldn't it be an injection he should prescribe? I read that tablets (5-ht1 agonists) don't take the pain away fast enough and that painkillers dont do anything to lessen the pain.

Would appreciate any response...


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  • Posted

    In one word YES.

    If your Dr took the time to look in his copy of the BNF ( the Dr`s prescribing bible) he would see this,

    BNF states: Cluster headache

    Cluster headache rarely responds to standard analgesics. Sumatriptan given by subcutaneous injection is the drug of choice for the treatment of cluster headache. Alternatively, 100% oxygen at a rate of 7–12 litres/minute is useful in aborting an attack.

    The tablets can take up to 40 Min's to be effective and while this may help stop an attack for people who suffer with attacks that last several hours why should any of us have to put up with any pain when there is a medication that if it works can stop it within 10 Min's for most.



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  • Posted

    Thanks for response Dape. The Dr I saw first obviously has no sympathy with the pain I'm in. I Went to see a different Dr. who has given me Sumatriptan tablets but literally laughed at me when I asked for injections. He said they cost too much money!

    Was going to start on Verapamil but recently had a 24hr E.C.G. which shows my heart rate was very fast and irregular so he wont give me that. Also talked about Amitriptyline but I'm already on anti-depressant medication so I couldnt have that either. So now I only have Sumatriptan tablets and nothing for prevention of the attacks. At least he recognised that I need specialist treatment with someone who knows what they are talking about and this time he looked in his book and finally moved things on another step instead of me being stuck in limbo in excruciating pain.

    I'm now waiting for an urgent appointment with a neurologist, I'm really hoping they could finally do something to the pain I'm in and praying that this is only an episode and not chronic!! :cry:

    Thanks for replying,


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  • Posted

    It took 11 weeks but I [u:d880fce101]think[/u:d880fce101] my first bout of headaches is finally over. I have not had one in about 10 days :D

    Got an appointment with the neurologist on 11th December but not sure if I still have to go or not because I think (hope!) they have finally ended. I'm not booked for any tests at the hospital I think it is just for a chat with the consultant.

    I'm also on Pizotifen. I'm not sure whether I have to stop these now or not. It might be that they have stopped the headaches. I'm not sure. I suppose the only way to know for sure is to come off them but I really don't want to do that if that is the case.

    Does anyone know whether you only use these during the time you have the headaches? And what about my appointment? Should I still go or should I cancel it? As ever, all responses greatfully received,


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  • Posted


    Do go to your Neurologist appt and describe your attacks. The neurologist will no doubt know about CH and will prescribe accordingly.

    As a relatively new sufferer (3 years) I would urge you to check out other information sites like clusterheadaches

    Its a US support group for CH sufferes and look up oxygen therapy for aborting attacks. It is available on the NHS - you need to speak to your GP about it

    Good luck

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  • Posted

    You could also look at the OUCH(UK) website, or ring the Helpline for advice, the number is 01646 651979.

    You will find us listed under the Patient UK Support page.

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