Difference between migraine headache and cluster headache

I was wondering can someone explain the real difference between migraine and cluster headaches. My head is still hurting this morning even after taking my abortive migraine medication. Better but still hurting… just looking some stuff up and somewhat confused between the two type headaches.


I found this article that draws comparisons but not sure how accurate this is still:

I recall reading something recently in the science lit which suggested that the line between the two is very blurred and that they may in fact be the same thing where a cluster headache is just a very severe migraine. I’ll have a look for it later today.


I don’t know what conclusion to draw from this but some years ago I had a very similar experience to the one you have described over the last few days, including sort of getting over a bad, one sided headache and then have it jump to the other side the next day. From memory the whole thing lasted about five days I think, maybe even longer. Never had anything like that before or since. I just put it down to a quirky migraine but it didn’t half make me feel rough. Not least because I never even got over the first headache hit, and that used to usually take me a few days at least. I think that’s what made me feel so bad, it was like a bad head on top of a bad head, a double whammy and even when the acute pain was gone the residue lingered. And also it worried me that this was something new for me and what did it mean. As it turns out, it was of no special significance in the scheme of things but it was definitely a memorable experience and one I still recall vividly today. Hope your “better” soon turns into “ok now” Timeless.


I still have the pain on the left side which is lingering and when I looked up cluster it said that it has bad symptoms above the eyes and can make them teary which mine have been the last two days.

Mine have just never jumped from side to side like this!

My eyes have always been teary with migraines! Aren’t we a funny lot! All different - all unique - and no rhyme or reason to anything sometimes! :slight_smile:


Would cluster headaches be associated with constant dizziness problems and disequilibrium also? Like MAV? I wonder if you could have both. Wouldn’t that be fun :twisted:

Hi -

Unfortunately I have suffered from cluster headaches since I was 15, I am 34 now. I only got relief from them when I was pregnant and this year I haven’t had them since I take Verapamil.

I was told with clusters…

  1. They commonly occur during the same time each year…mine every spring.

  2. One gets a severe and I mean severe, one sided headache which radiates to the face (cheek area) and eye on that particular side

  3. I get a red, droopy, teary eyed look. I also get a ruuny nose. This is common with clusters.

  4. I would get them from March to May, everyday around the same time. I would have to leave work, go home and wait it out. I would get restless and would roll around in bed praying for relief.

5.These are considered a “man’s” headache. Most common in men. Just my luck to get them as a woman.

The pain from my clusters was worse than natural childbirth. Trust me. I had two babies which were over 10 lbs and did it without medicine. That was nothing compared to my clusters. They disrupted my life terribly. I couldn’t even have a conversation while having one. The book entitled The Migraine Brain by Dr. Carolyn Bernstein has a whole section on clusters worth reading. Dr. Hain suggests the use of oxygen within 5 minutes of the onset of one.

I believe migraines are similar but clusters are much more intense, the duration per headache is shorter (generally) and with clusters it happens for weeks to a few months straight,then one is headache free for a long period.

I hope this helps distinguish the two. I think migraines are more spontaneous and can be triggered more. In my opinion, both are debilitating.