Cluster Headaches & You: 10 Things You Need To Know…
Cluster headaches are a rare type of headache that can be totally debilitating. I know this because I’ve had them for over 30 years, and they still affect me every day. Yes, even on Sundays!
If you or someone you know is suffering from cluster headaches, here’s what you need to know about this mysterious condition:
Cluster headaches are excruciating
Cluster headaches are excruciating.
The pain and pressure can be so intense that it feels like the right side of your head is going to explode. The throbbing, pulsing sensation is so bad that tears often come to your eyes. The pain can also make you nauseous or cause vomiting, and it can make your eyes water excessively.
Cluster headaches are also known as “suicide headaches”.
Cluster headaches are also known as “suicide headaches”. That’s because the pain is so severe that it can make you feel like you want to die, which is why they’re often referred to as “suicide headaches”. The pain is described as a sharp, stabbing pain and some have even compared it to having a hot poker being stuck into their eye.
There is no cure for cluster headaches, but there are treatments.
So, what can you do to cope with cluster headaches? The good news is that there are treatments available.
The bad news is the treatment options are limited, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you.
Your doctor may recommend: medications; lifestyle changes; stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga; and in some cases, surgery or cranial nerve blocks (injections into the head).
The cause of cluster headaches is unknown.
If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’re dealing with cluster headaches. These are a type of recurring headache that occur in cycles lasting anywhere from weeks to months and can be excruciatingly painful.
The cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but there are many theories about what may trigger them. Some risk factors include family history, being male between the ages of 30-50 years old (or older), smoking tobacco and having allergies or asthma. There is no genetic link or environmental link so far identified as the cause for clusters; however it has been shown that clusters can run in families which suggests some sort of hereditary factor may play into their onset or severity at times.
Cluster periods can last from two weeks to several months.
Cluster periods can last from two weeks to several months. In a small number of cases, cluster periods can last for up to three years. Cluster periods are unpredictable and don’t follow the same pattern each time they occur. They also aren’t the same as migraines, which happen during an attack that lasts hours or days instead of hours at a time.
The symptoms of a cluster headache occur in a cycle.
For the most part, cluster headaches are pretty straightforward. They occur in patterns and have been known to go away on their own after a few weeks or months. The symptoms of a cluster headache are:
- A severe, throbbing pain that lasts for 15-180 minutes
- The pain is described as burning and stabbing on one side of your head only (unlike migraines, which can affect both sides)
- Pain so intense that it’s debilitating
Gender, race and genetics don’t appear to play a role in who suffers from cluster headaches.
While it’s true that women are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches than men, research has shown that race and genetics don’t appear to play a role in who suffers from cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are also more common in people who have a family history of cluster headaches.
Cluster headaches are rare.
- Cluster headaches are rare.
- Men are more likely to get cluster headaches than women. (This is true for most medical conditions, but it’s especially true when you look at the scope of cluster headaches.)
- People between the ages of 15 and 50 are more likely to get cluster headaches than people outside that range. Again, this is also true for other types of migraines, although not all migraine sufferers experience symptoms before age 15 or after age 50—so if you fall outside those parameters and still have them, don’t panic! It just means that there might be something else going on in your brain.
- If your family members have had cluster headaches before, chances are very good that you’ll develop them too—although there’s no guarantee either way!
Cluster headaches affect just one side of the head.
So you think your migraines are bad? You might have cluster headaches if the pain is not only unilateral (contrary to most headaches), but it’s also localized to one side of the head. Cluster headaches are often described as feeling like a “sledgehammer hitting you over and over again.” They can be difficult to treat because they come on so suddenly, and because they tend to occur at night.
The pain is usually located near your temple, eye, cheekbone or forehead—on that same side every time. The worst part about cluster headaches? They’re more common than you think: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders estimates that 30% of chronic migraine sufferers also suffer from cluster headaches annually!
Cluster headaches usually occur one to four times per day throughout the day.Takeaway: You’re not alone if you have cluster headaches.
You are not alone in having cluster headaches. In fact, you’re among the 93% of people who have never had one. Cluster headaches are rare, with only about 1% of men and 0.5% of women experiencing them during their lifetime.
They’re not contagious or caused by stress, allergies or a lack of sleep and water like some people think.
If you or someone you know suffers from cluster headaches, we hope this article was helpful. The good news is that there are treatments for cluster headaches. Our team here at PainDoctor.com understands the frustration and pain that comes with having these debilitating headaches and wants to help anyone who needs it!