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Oxygen Therapy Underutilized for Cluster Headache—What Can You Do?

Despite treatment guidelines recommending the use of oxygen for the acute therapy of cluster headache, oxygen remains underutilized. A recent study looking at the cost of oxygen for cluster headache found the reason for its lack of use may be because of poor physician awareness of the treatment, as well as the lack of understanding for how to write and fill a prescription for high-flow oxygen.


The study, which was published in October in Headache, looked at 42 US states where pricing information related to oxygen was available. Costs varied widely with the annual cost of oxygen ranging from $80 to $4900 for individuals with episodic cluster headache. On average, the average annual cost for oxygen was less than $1000.

Researchers also found that most private commercial healthcare insurance providers reimbursed patients for the cost of oxygen used for the treatment of cluster headache. However, oxygen is not covered by the US Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS).

Still, the nationwide study found medical grade oxygen to be widely available and reasonably priced. It concluded that more research needs to be done to determine the cause of the underutilization of oxygen.

Researchers suggested a need to educate healthcare professionals on the efficacy of oxygen and educate patients to know how to ask their physician for a prescription for oxygen. Individuals with cluster headache interested in learning more about how to ask their physicians for prescriptions of oxygen are encouraged to contact the National Headache Foundation.

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