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An Overview of Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are known to be one of the most painful conditions a human can suffer. They are similar to migraines headaches, but more painful. They are called cluster headaches because attacks happen at regular intervals and may last for several weeks. Then comes a remission period which may last for years before another attack shows up.

Cluster attacks are much more uncommon than tension headaches and migraine headaches. But the pain from a cluster migraine headache is far more severe than an ordinary migraine.

While a woman is more likely to have a migraine headache, a man is 5 to 8 times more likely to suffer from a cluster headache. Migraine cluster headaches are generally unilateral, or limited to one side. They also start very quickly with little or no warning.

Cluster headache symptoms include a sharp, burning head pain behind the eye, a runny eye, and/or nasal congestion. Cluster headaches often come with nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and back and neck pain. Sometimes there is swelling or inflammation on the side affected by a cluster headache migraine.

There are two types of migraine cluster headaches: episodic and chronic.

Episodic cluster headaches

These are the types of cluster headaches that most people have to suffer. When it happens, people experience several headaches per day at regular intervals for weeks or months at a time. The regularity of attacks can be surprising. They are often called “alarm clock headaches” because for many people cluster headache attacks occur at the same exact time each day.

For this reason, researchers believe the human circadian rhythm is involved. After a while, the sufferer gets a break from the headaches for several months to a year at a time before cluster attacks begin again.

Chronic cluster headaches

These headaches are almost identical to episodic cluster headaches in severity and symptoms. The major difference is that there is no period of remission. The person who has these suffers every day.

What causes cluster headaches is still under debate, but there are some well known triggers of cluster attacks to avoid if you have the affliction. Some of these include:

• Smoking

• Alcohol

• Specific foods

• Changes in sleep patterns

Different things will trigger cluster headaches for different people. A diary of activities, food, and drink can help someone with cluster headaches pinpoint what may be causing them.

The best cluster headache treatment involves both treating the pain from cluster attacks and trying to prevent headaches from happening to begin with. Physicians may recommend taking an anti-inflammatory for several weeks or breathing pure oxygen for pain relief.

Traditional pain killers do not usually work as a cluster headaches treatment because they take too long to kick in. The drugs that do work may have side effects that are severe and should only be used as necessary. Treatment for cluster headaches can also include antihistamines, calcium channel blockers and lithium, to name a few.

People who are afflicted by cluster headaches go through extreme pain and suffering during a cluster attack. It is important for these people to see a physician to get some form of cluster headache relief.

What works for some people may not work for others, so communication with the doctor about symptoms should be top priority. Even though there is no one cluster headache cure, relief of symptoms should be a top priority. Living a normal life is possible, in spite of having cluster headaches.

Always consult with your doctor or a certified professional trainer before undertaking any exercises, treatments, or dietary supplements.

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