How Dangerous Are Cluster Headaches? Cluster headache is a rare form of headache that is related to migraines. There are very severe headache attacks that occur in clusters (groups). The most famous another name for cluster headache is Horton neuralgia. It is particularly common in men in the 18 to 50 age group. After the sixtieth year of life, cluster headache is rare.
Cluster headache symptoms
Cluster headache consists of attacks of very severe headaches. The attacks are not the same for everyone. Common complaints are:
- extreme stabbing pain on one side of the face and sleep
- radiation of the pain to one eye
- watering, red-eye
- runny nose or a blocked nose
- urge to move
- exhaustion after an attack
Other complaints that may occur are:
- excessive sweating
- increase in body temperature
- swollen eyelids
- radiance of the pain to other parts of the face or neck
The headache attacks with cluster headache occur in clusters (groups). The clusters usually occur once or twice a year and last two to twelve weeks. Headache attacks occur frequently during a cluster. The number of attacks varies per person. Some people have one attack in two days, others have multiple attacks in one day. The attacks often come very regularly. The clock can, in a manner of speaking, be set equal. The attacks usually last from fifteen minutes to an hour, but can also last a few hours.
In men, cluster headache often occurs during certain times of the year, often in spring and fall. In women with this condition, the episodes can occur throughout the year. Attacks can be triggered by the use of alcohol or certain foods such as chocolate, old cheese, and spicy food. In most cases, the attacks cannot be predicted.
How does the cluster headache occur?
Very little is known about the cause of cluster headache. A lot of research is being done into the causes. Once these are known, more targeted therapy may be given.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
People experience cluster headaches as extremely severe and unbearable. In contrast to most other forms of headache, cluster headache can be very restrictive. The condition can lead to memory and concentration disorders. The unfamiliarity with the condition, also among doctors, and its consequences for the patient, often lead to social problems. A number of treatments are possible with cluster headaches. Which treatment is successful depends on the patient. It can, therefore, take a considerable time before an effective treatment is found for you. The forms of treatment can be divided into two groups:
- Treatments that break off an attack once started. To break an attack, you have to apply oxygen yourself through a mouth cap or you can inject yourself with a medicine
- Treatments that try to prevent attacks as much as possible. There are various medicines that can be used to try and prevent attacks.
In the past, a nerve block was regularly used as a treatment. Because drug treatments are often successful nowadays, this is hardly ever applied.
When to the doctor?
If you suspect that you have a cluster headache, it is highly advisable to make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe oxygen or syringes with a medicine that can help you stop an attack. If the cluster headache occurs very frequently, your doctor may prescribe a means to prevent the attacks as much as possible.
What can you do about it yourself?
The treatment options for cluster headaches are not yet optimal. It is difficult, but sometimes you will have to learn to live with these attacks of extreme headache. It can be good to talk with fellow sufferers. How do they experience the attacks, how do they deal with it, how do they organize their lives?
How Dangerous Are Cluster Headaches