Mercy Neurologist Dr. James Bernheimer Discusses Cluster Headaches

August 12, 2019
The Neurology Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

James H. Bernheimer, M.D., is an expert neurologist with The Neurology Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Bernheimer recently responded to questions about the nature of cluster headaches, here are his insights:

Are cluster headaches dangerous?
Not dangerous.

How long do cluster headaches last?
Each individual headache usually lasts no more than 30-60 minutes but they may recur several times over the course of a day, or commonly at night.  However, a patient may have a cluster of multiple brief headaches a day, daily, for up to several weeks followed by intervals of being completely headache free.

What helps cluster headaches fast? Does caffeine help?
The best treatment for quick relief is oxygen, usually administered by a nasal cannula.  I am not sure if caffeine helps the way it can for migraine.

Is a cluster headache worse than a migraine?
I would not say cluster headaches are necessarily worse (or better) than migraine.  Just different: different pattern of occurrence, slightly different treatment, and cluster headaches are less common in general and more common in men than women, whereas migraines are much more common in general but affect twice as many women as men.

Can eye strain cause cluster headaches? Are cluster headaches genetic?
There is a genetic component to cluster headache, and often there will be a family history of migraine as well.  They are not caused by eye strain.

Dr. James H. Bernheimer offers comprehensive consultation, evaluation and treatment for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, headaches/migraines, hydrocephalus, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, muscle disease, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome and stroke. His special clinical interests include neuromuscular disease and stroke.


Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: dcollins@mdmercy.com Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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