According to a new study, 15 minutes of treatment with high-flow oxygen may help alleviate cluster headaches.
Characterized by bouts of excruciating pain near the eyes or temples, cluster headaches are known to last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours when untreated. Attacks can occur up to eight times a day and may last for weeks, separated by remission periods of months or even years.
Researchers at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London conducted a controlled trial over a five-year period and found that 78 percent of patients with chronic cluster headaches who received high-flow oxygen treatment reported being pain-free or adequately relieved within 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, only 20 percent of respondents who received the placebo treatment reported a relief of cluster headache symptoms.
"To our knowledge, this is the first adequately powered trial of high-flow oxygen compared with placebo, and it confirms clinical experience and current guidelines that inhaled oxygen can be used as an acute attack therapy for episodic and chronic cluster headache," said the authors of the study.
The current pharmacological treatment for cluster headaches is a drug called sumatriptan, but frequent use is not recommended due to adverse side effects.