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Corticosteroids (such as prednisone or
dexamethasone) are referred to as "transitional" medicines for the treatment of
cluster headaches, because they are sometimes used to
break a cycle of cluster headaches. They are paired with medicines that stop
(abortive) or prevent (prophylactic) additional headaches during a headache
cycle. Often, within 2 to 4 days after starting treatment with corticosteroids,
you will become headache-free. By the time the corticosteroids are
stopped—their use is often tapered within 6 to 8 weeks of starting and then
discontinued—the medicines used to prevent cluster headaches, such as
verapamil, have taken effect.
Corticosteroids are not used over a
long period of time because they can cause serious side effects,
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
January 27, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
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