Stop Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are distinguished by intense, steady pain behind the eyes, always on one side of your face, near the sinuses and/or temples. Other symptoms include one-sided nasal stuffiness or runny nose and a droopy eyelid over a red and tearing eye. Cluster headaches commonly come on just after you go to sleep, and that is the reason why they are occasionally referred to as "alarm clock headaches". Typically, attacks last from 20 to 50 minutes, and than the pain quits, only to return hours later. See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
There's no other headache as painful as a cluster headache. Attacks usually occur in cyclical patterns, or clusters which gives this type of headache its name. Cluster headaches can affect people at any age but is most common in men between adolescence and middle age. There are two basic types of cluster headaches: episodic and chronic. Episodic, more common type, when you may have 2 or 3 headaches a day for about 2 months and than not experience another headache for a year. After that the painful pattern will repeat itself. Although the pattern varies from one person to another, most people may have one or two cluster periods a year. Chronic type behaves very similarly but, unfortunately, you get no period of untreated sustained relief. Over the counter pain medications (such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen) have no effect on the pain from a cluster headache.

Self Care And Prevention

For many people, inhaling pure oxygen can stop the pain, and prescription drugs can help prevent further attacks. For others taking hot showers help. The warmth relaxes spastic head and neck muscles and can help prevent further attacks. There is no any other scientific reason why hot showers would prevent cluster pain, but if that works as a remedy to control cluster headache, just use it. If you're prone to cluster headache, it's best to stop smoking and avoid alcohol products, including beer and wine. Avoid prolonged exposure to substances such as gasoline, solvents, and oil-based paints because they may trigger an attack. For many people taking an afternoon nap brings on a headache, specially once a cluster period has started.

Alcohol is recognized as a common trigger of cluster headaches when a person is in cycle or susceptible. Hydrocarbons (petroleum solvents, perfume) are also recognized as a trigger for cluster headaches. Many patients have a decreased tolerance to heat, and this may act as a trigger in some. The role of diet and specific foods in triggering cluster headaches is controversial and not jet well understood.

Some experts believe that, unlike everyday tension headaches or migraine headache, the excruciating pain of cluster headaches is brought on by overactive nerve endings inside already dilated blood vessels. There are many theories on what causes cluster headaches, but no one knows exactly what causes them. 

Our pages are created to provide medically accurate information that is intended to complement, not replace or substitute in any way the services of your physician. Any application of the recommendations set forth in the following pages is at the reader's discretion and sole risk. Before undergoing medical treatment, you should consult with your doctor, who can best assess your individual needs, symptoms and treatment.