Oxygen and cluster headaches

Oxygen Inhalation for Cluster Headaches

Oxygen is given at a high flow rate of 6 to 7 liters a minute for 10 to 20 minutes at the start of a cluster headache.

High-flow oxygen inhalation therapy is used to treat cluster headaches. If headache pain is not relieved within 20 minutes, oxygen therapy should be stopped.

High-flow oxygen therapy does not prevent a cluster headache. It only provides temporary relief of headache pain.

Oxygen therapy is one of the best treatments to stop a cluster headache. Oxygen therapy relieves headache pain within 15 minutes in more than 7 out of 10 people who use it. It works best when started right when a cluster headache starts.

In general, there are no adverse effects from oxygen treatment. But oxygen is a fire hazard. It is important to follow safety measures to keep you and your family safe. Do not use oxygen around lit cigarettes, open flames, or flammable substances.

Your doctor will set the flow rate per minute to give you the right amount of oxygen. Don’t change the flow rate unless your doctor tells you to.

If needed, oxygen can be combined with cluster headache medicines (such as sumatriptan) for the most effective treatment. Oxygen also may be combined with preventive medicines to reduce how often you get headaches.

References:

(Cohen AS, et al. (2009). High-flow oxygen for treatment of cluster headache: A randomized trial. JAMA, 302(22): 2451–2457)

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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