A cluster headache is a type of a headache that attacks one side of the head, often by the eye, and typically recurs over a period of time. People suffering from this condition usually experience it in episodes of about three times per day and this may go for a week or even a month. People suffering from cluster headaches usually experience them at the same time of day.
Cluster headache Symptoms
It is very easy to tell whether one is suffering from cluster headaches especially if you are a physician. Severe pain, especially from one side that causes tearing of the eyes, is one of the main symptoms of a cluster headache. With the symptoms clearing showing, it becomes very easy for the physician to provide the necessary treatment. Below are some of the main symptoms associated with cluster headaches.
- Swelling under or around the eye
- Excessive tearing
- Runny nose or stuffy nose on the same side as the head pain
- Red, flushed face
- Red eye
- Burning, sharp, or steady
- Pain felt on one side of the face from neck, often involving the eye
Cluster headache Causes
There are many reasons why one would be suffering from a cluster headache. Sometimes the condition might be inherited while other may be acquired. Cluster headaches can be caused by head or brain trauma. There are different types of cluster headaches depending on the cause. Below you will find some of the main causes of cluster headaches.
- Excessive alcohol use
- High altitudes (trekking and air travel)
- Bright light (including welding light and sunlight)
- Exertion (intense physical activities)
- Hot weather or hot baths
- Foods high in nitrites (bacon and preserved meats)
- Certain medicines
- Cocaine or substances with cocaine addiction
Cluster headache Diagnosis
The diagnosis of cluster headaches is very easy for an experienced medical practitioner. One thing that the doctor will ask you is how the headache is behaving. A cluster headache is usually very severe and the fact that it is affecting a certain portion of the head is a clear symptom of this condition. Also, the doctor will be interested to know about the history of the condition and if it runs through the family. This will crucial since some of the conditions can be inherited. A doctor can run the following tests to confirm the cluster headache diagnosis.
- A laboratory test to check the hormone levels and if you are suffering from other conditions like hypertension
- Neurological examination
- Head scan to check if there is any problem form the inside
Cluster headache Treatment
Cluster headaches are among the conditions that are tricky to treat. This is because many would mistake it with the normal headaches while it is not. A cluster headache or what many people refer to as the migraines cannot be treated with the common painkillers. You can either take strong medicines to prevent pains or medicines to prevent headaches. Below you will find some of the methods to treat cluster headaches.
- Taking triptans like sumatripan
- Taking anti-inflammatory medicines such as prednisone. With this medicine, you need to start with a high dose and reduce as you go
- Breathing in pure oxygen (100% oxygen)
- Injection of dihydroergotamine can stop cluster attacks