While migraine headaches are more common in women, cluster headaches are more common in men. The pain, however, can often be as severe as that of a migraine headache. Scientists have not yet found the cause of cluster headaches, but they do know that these headaches are not related to any other illnesses or diseases, and they are not hereditary.
There is usually no warning sign that a cluster headache is about to start. They start suddenly, and the pain increases quickly. A person may feel pain and pressure behind one or both eyes, and the eye may even become red and swollen, not to mention watery. The nose may also become red, swollen, and mucous may drain.
Cluster headaches can last anywhere from half an hour to forty-five minutes or more, but unlike migraines, they are quickly recurring. The sufferer will usually experience cluster headaches around the same time each day for up to eight weeks. These periods of headaches may be experienced every few months or so as well. This makes cluster headaches very scary if the sufferer doesn’t expect it. Often, people think they have a serious health problem, even though they don’t.
However, for sufferers, cluster headaches are a serious health problem in themselves. The pain is severe. When one headache ends, they know that another one will come the next day or in a few hours. Some people report up to six or more headaches each and every day of the cluster period.
While tests are not required to diagnose cluster headaches, your doctor may suggest them anyway, just to rule out other serious health problems. Recurring headaches such as these are often the sign of neurological problems, and that does need to be ruled out. It is important that you tell your doctor how often the headaches are occurring, the severity of the pain, how long they last, and what time of the day they start. You should also discuss what you have done to try to relieve the pain, what has worked, and what has not. Your doctor needs all of this information to better treat you.
Bright light, changes in sleeping patterns, alcohol, and stress often make cluster headaches worse, and will only serve to lengthen the period that the headaches will reoccur, and the severity of the pain. Like migraine headaches, over the counter pain reliever may help reduce pain, but in most cases, you will need prescription strength medication.
Because cluster headaches often start upon waking, many sufferers try to avoid sleeping. This only serves to make the headaches more intense, and the cluster period to last longer. So, although your instinct is to avoid the headache by not sleeping, you are in fact only making it worse. However, you should avoid sleeping at unusual times. For instance, if you do not normally take afternoon naps, don’t start now – even though your drained from yet another cluster headache!
Doctors will often prescribe a medication that will help reduce the number of headaches during the cluster period, and you will be told to take the medication at a certain time of the day, depending on when your headaches start. Your doctor may also prescribe an oxygen tank. Breathing in oxygen in large quantities often seems to relive the pain for many sufferers.
Because oral medication works very slowly, and the pain of cluster headaches is severe, you will most likely be prescribed an inhaler, an injection, or a rectal suppository. Other treatments may also be prescribed. One way to help reduce, and possibly even prevent cluster headaches is to avoid excessive light by wearing special sunglasses designed for headache sufferers.
Copyright 2006 TriggerOptics.com
Rick Cosby is a professor of Electro Physics. He has a deep practical and theoretical understanding of headaches. His highly specialized education and experience make him uniquely qualified to create special lenses that might help prevent headaches. For more headache related articles see their website at:
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