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Headaches from Hell: Cluster Headaches

  By posted May 21st 2012
Healthy Living


Headache from Hell: Cluster Headache

Appropriately named, cluster headaches involve throbbing painful attacks, which may even last for a few weeks. The pain may peak in less than 5 minutes and can last for an hour or so. Accompanied by a pain-free period of variable length, one can get several headaches in a day or weeks for that matter. Cluster headaches is a condition mostly found in adults who are 25 years of age or above.

Broadly speaking, cluster headaches can be divided as... 

  • Episodic: A more common type of cluster headache, where one may encounter 2 to 3 headaches in a day for say about a month or two, post which the headaches don't recur for up to a year. 
  • Chronic: Quite similar to episodic headaches, chronic cluster headaches do not include any kind of sustained relief. 

Cluster headaches affect 1 in 1,000 people and are typically seen in adults who have crossed 25 years of age. They are more common in men. Endless theories abound around cluster headaches, many of which revolve around autonomic or automatic nervous system or your brain's hypothalamus. Some experts believe that cluster headaches are quite common to migraines and begin in the nerve, from where the sensation goes on to the brain. Others believe that cluster headaches are a product of deep vascular channels in the head. 

Symptoms of cluster headache include headaches that generally tick right after you go off to sleep, a teary feeling in the eye, dropping eyelids, nasal stuffiness and a runny nose, accompanied by seasonal variation. Cluster headaches tend to appear mostly in the summer months.

Treatment of cluster headaches involves anti-inflammatory medicines, use of triptans, even injections such as dihydroergotamine (DHE), and breathing 100% pure fresh air. One can also use medicines, which are used to treat depression, such as amitriptyline.

*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images



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