What is a Cluster Headache and What Are Its Symptoms?
One of the most agonizing kind of headaches, the Cluster Headache occurs in a repeated pattern within a period of time. The headache happens on one side of the head and lasts as long as 4 to 12 weeks typically striking once every 2 days with severe cases reporting almost 8 times in one day. The pain is most intense during the initial 15-20 minutes and it takes almost an hour for the sufferer to get back to normal.
When Cluster Headaches happen, the sufferer finds it difficult staying still and starts moving around from the pain. In some documented cases, individuals have resorted to banging their heads on the wall. The extreme pain is even considered by some to be something much more serious like a tumor, but those are really rare occurrences.
What are the Causes and Cures for Cluster Headaches?
Cluster Headaches are uncommon, affecting only 1 in 1000 people. They are more severe than the usual migraines. They affect more men than women and are active in people who are regular smokers. The exact origin of cluster headaches remains unknown with recent research suggesting over-activity of the brain being one of the causes for the extreme pain. Other reasons for triggering the headaches include strong smells, alcohol and an overheated environment.
How are Cluster Headaches Treated?
Due to the sheer intensity of symptoms, it is very difficult to cure Cluster Headaches by just the intake of regular, over-the-counter medicines which are often found to be ineffective. There are other treatments for Cluster Headaches that can alleviate the pain. These include:
- Oxygen therapy: Although this treatment does not work for everybody, it is very effective and works quickly when pure 100 percent oxygen is used.
- Preventive treatments: The preventive medicines that are known to be effective against Cluster Headaches are Verapamil and Lithium.
- Zolmitriptan nasal spray: This comes under triptan medicine which is used to treat cluster headaches. It takes some time for the medicine to take effect but is proven to be effective
- Sumatriptan injection: This is also a Triptan medicine and is an alternative to the Zolmitriptan nasal spray. It relieves pain faster than Zolmitriptan and usually treats the headache in less than 15 minutes. The injection which is taken as soon as the pain starts, will work by interfering with a brain chemical called 5HT
General physicians commonly do not treat cluster headaches. Choose specialists for treatments of such headaches if you or a loved one are suffering.
The Miami Headache and Neurological Institute with its advanced research backing and expert team of doctors offers treatment for all types of headaches. Our aim is to help you get long-term relief through careful diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Call us at 305.440.5969 and put an end to the vicious cycle of cluster headaches or use our contact form to book a consultation.
Dr. Payman Sadeghi is the founder of the Miami Headache and Neurological Institute. He studied medicine at Nordestana University and finished his Internal Medicine internship and Neurology residency at the University of Texas. Dr. Sadeghi has completed an electromyography super fellowship as well as many epilepsy and neuroimaging fellowships. At his residency in Neurology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Dr. Sadeghi gained extensive experience diagnosing and treating headache and migraine patients. That residency, along with Dr. Sadeghi's medical curiosity and his varied clinical experience, has made him a specialist in headaches and their treatment.
Dr. Sadeghi was also a clinical assistant professor during his time at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Headache Society, the National Headache Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology. Dr. Sadeghi is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Persian.