Cluster headache in children - Experience from a specialist headache clinic

A. Majumdar*, M. A S Ahmed, S. Benton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cluster headache is a primary headache disorder with the distinct clinical features: unilaterality, extreme pain, cranial autonomic features and periodicity. The prevalence of the disorder is 0.1% in adults and with a male predominance. The age of onset is usually in the second and third decade of life but the onset in the first decade is recognised. We describe our experience of cluster headache in children and review the literature. We have attempted to define the clinical features of cluster headache in children as compared to adults, the role of clinical investigations, reliability of clinical diagnosis, effective treatment and management options. Methods: A retrospective casenotes review was conducted on all children with suspected cluster headache seen in our centre from 2000 to 2005. Case ascertainment was conducted using International Headache Society guidelines, and by telephone interviews with the parents. Results: Eleven children were identified, (seven male and four female). The median age of onset was 8.5 years (range 2-14). The median age at diagnosis was 11.5 years (range 7-17). Eight children had episodic and 3 children had chronic cluster headaches. The average attack duration was 72 min. The commonest reported bout frequency was one per day. Several children had circadian and circumannual periodicity and most displayed the other features of the disorder, such as agitated movement and cranial autonomic activation. Oxygen, methysergide, verapamil, zolmitriptan and dihydroergotamine were the drugs which were effective in terminating the headache. Paracetamol, ibuprofen and paracetamol/codeine combinations were not. Conclusion: We describe our experience with cluster headache in eleven children who all presented before the age of 16.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-529
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Paediatric Neurology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


  • Cluster headache
  • Trigeminal autonomic cephalgia Children


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