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Oxygen Useful in Treating Cluster Headache Pain

Last Updated: December 08, 2009.

Inhaling high-flow oxygen may provide relief from the pain of cluster headaches within 15 minutes, according to research published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Inhaling high-flow oxygen may provide relief from the pain of cluster headaches within 15 minutes, according to research published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Anna S. Cohen, Ph.D., of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, and colleagues analyzed data from 76 adults with episodic or chronic cluster headache who alternated between treating headaches with 100 percent oxygen or air through a face mask in a blinded fashion. Patients were treated for four headache episodes for 15 minutes each, and the primary end point was freedom from pain or adequate relief at 15 minutes.

The researchers found that subjects gained sufficient pain relief at 15 minutes during significantly more attacks using oxygen than air (78 versus 20 percent), and reported no serious adverse events related to the treatment.

"This trial provides strong evidence for the efficacy of high-flow-rate inhaled oxygen for the acute attack treatment of acute cluster headache compared with placebo," the authors write. "This work paves the way for further studies to optimize the administration of oxygen and its more widespread use as an acute attack treatment in cluster headache, offering an evidence-based alternative to those who cannot take triptan agents."

The trial was partly sponsored by Linde Gases, which supplied cylinders and masks.

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