People who suffer from cluster headaches have new way to battle pain

Lynne Adkins
June 17, 2019 - 4:00 am

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The FDA has just approved a once a month injection to treat painful cluster headaches. 

Dr. Ausim Azizi, professor of neurology at Temple University School of Medicine, says cluster headaches attack men five times more than women. The pain comes at night, normally behind one eye and on one side of the face.

"The classic cluster headache happens after sleep. Now, the reason it's called cluster headache is because it's clustered in time, what that means is that a patient may have a bunch of headaches every two hours, three hours for brief periods of time for a whole month, and then the headaches will go away for months at a time," Azizi said.

And like any medication, it does have side effects.

"This is a protein, it's not just a chemical. You can have an allergic reaction to it. The other part that happens is that at the site of injection, which is under the skin, you can develop inflammation, bruising and sometime infection," he said. 

He says Emgality was shown to reduce the number of headaches by up to 40 percent. Still, he says it won't be his first line of defense because patients would have to give themselves the monthly shot and the medication is expensive.