Cluster Headache : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment


 What is Cluster Headache?

Cluster headaches are a series of comparatively short however terribly painful headaches each day for weeks or months at a time. You tend to urge them at an equivalent time every year, to admire them within the spring or fall. owing to this, individuals often mistake cluster headaches for symptoms of allergies or work stress.

consultants don't grasp what causes them, but a nerve in your face is involved, making intense pain around one of your eyes. It's thus unhealthy that the majority of people can't sit still and can often pace throughout AN attack. Cluster headaches are often a lot more severe than a migraine, however they sometimes don't last as long.

What is Cluster Headache?
Cluster Headache

These are the smallest common style of headaches, moving fewer than one in 1,000 people. Men get them quite as girls do. you always begin obtaining them before age thirty. Cluster headaches could escape fully (this is termed going into remission) for months or years, but they'll return with none warning.Cluster headaches get their name from however they have an effect on you. They are available in clusters, or groups, before being briefly exploited for many people.

Every headache tends to last 30 to forty {five} minutes, although some are shorter and a few longer. you'll expertise up to eight of those headaches inside twenty four hours. And this might happen for weeks or many months.

Then the clusters typically pause, for reasons that aren’t however understood. The headaches move into remission (go away) for months or years before returning. Some individuals ne'er get abundant of a break, though. They experience chronic (ongoing) cluster headaches. This happens regarding one in five those who get cluster headaches.

  1. Sensory organs

Medical terms

  • Cluster headaches, which occur in diurnal patterns or cluster periods, are one in every of the foremost painful kinds of headache. A headache normally awakens you within the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one facet of your head. Bouts of frequent attacks, referred to as cluster periods, will last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods once the headaches stop. Throughout remission, no headaches occur for months and generally even years. Fortunately, cluster headache is rare and not life-threatening. Treatments can build cluster headache attacks shorter and fewer severe. In addition, medications will scale back the quantity of cluster headaches you have. 
  • Cluster headache is characterized by unilateral sharp or burning pain around the eye It occurs in bouts with each bout lasting from 15 minutes to a day typically coming on every day for between one month to several months Each bout then stops spontaneously; there is no known cause for the attacks which affects both men and women equally Patients suffering from cluster headaches often experience changes in personality during the attacks; they may become irritable angry or joyous depending on their personalities before becoming ill Many patients report feeling thirsty during an attack as well as having dilated pupils Cluster headaches can be difficult to separate.

symptoms and treatment Cluster headaches are a form of neuropathic pain caused by the compression or constriction of certain nerves in the neck The underlying cause of cluster headaches is still unknown These attacks occur most often between midnight and 4 AM with more than one attack per day for several consecutive days each month Cluster headache symptoms include: intense severe pain behind one eye; mild-to-severe nausea and vomiting; drooping eyelid on the same side as the headache; tearing from increased lacrimation or excessive tear production; decreased vision (blind spot); and increased sweating pulse rate and blood pressure Those suffering.

Symptoms Cluster headache

Cluster headaches begin quickly associated while not warning. The pain is extremely severe and is commonly represented as a sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one aspect of the head. It's often felt around the eye, temple and generally face. It tends to have an effect on a similar side for every attack. individuals often feel restless and agitated throughout an attack as a result of the pain is thus intense, and that they could react by rocking, pacing or banging their head against the wall.

Common signs and symptoms

A cluster headache strikes quickly, sometimes while not warning, though you may initially have migraine-like nausea and aura. Common signs and symptoms throughout a headache include:

  • Excruciating pain that is generally situated in, behind or around one eye, but may radiate to other areas of your face, head and neck

  • One-sided pain

  • Restlessness

  • Excessive tearing

  • Redness of your eye on the affected side

  • Stuffy or runny nose on the affected side

  • Forehead or facial sweating on the affected side

  • Pale skin (pallor) or flushing on your face

  • Swelling around your eye on the affected side

  • Drooping eyelid on the affected side

People with cluster headaches, in contrast to those with migraine, are seemingly to pace or sit and rock back and forth. Some migraine-like symptoms — as well as sensitivity to light-weight and sound — will occur with a cluster headache, although sometimes on one side.

Cluster period characteristics

A cluster amount typically lasts for many weeks to months. The beginning date and also the length of {every} cluster period may be consistent from period to period. For example, cluster periods can occur seasonally, akin to every spring or every fall. Most people have episodic histamine headaches. In episodic cluster headaches, the headaches occur for one week to a year, followed by a non painful remission period that may last as long as twelve months before another cluster headache develops. Chronic cluster periods would possibly continue for quite a year, or pain-free periods might last less than one month.

During a cluster period:

  • Headaches usually occur every day, sometimes several times a day

  • A single attack can last from 15 minutes to three hours

  • The attacks often occur at the same time each day

  • Most attacks occur at night, usually 1 to 2 hours after you go to bed

The pain usually ends as suddenly as it began, with rapidly decreasing intensity. After attacks, most people are pain-free but exhausted.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you've simply begun to have cluster headaches to rule out alternative disorders associated with seeking out the foremost effective treatment. Headache pain, even once severe, typically isn't the result of an underlying disease. However headaches will sometimes indicate a significant underlying medical condition, reminiscent of a brain tumor or rupture of a weakened vas (aneurysm). Additionally, if you have got a history of headaches, see your doctor if the pattern changes or your headaches suddenly feel different. 

Seek emergency care if you have any of these signs and symptoms:

  • An abrupt, severe headache, often like a thunderclap

  • A headache with a fever, nausea or vomiting, a stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, numbness, or speaking difficulties, which can indicate a number of problems, including a stroke, meningitis, encephalitis or a brain tumor

  • A headache after a head injury, even if it's a minor fall or bump, especially if it worsens

  • A sudden, severe headache unlike any you've had

  • A headache that worsens over days and changes in pattern

Causes Cluster headache

You get cephalalgia once a nerve tract within the base of your brain is triggered. That signal looks to return from a deeper a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, home of the "internal biological clock" that controls your sleep and wake cycles.The nerve that' affected, the nervus trigeminus nerv, is accountable for sensations cherish heat or pain in your face. It' close to your eye, and it branches up to your forehead, across your cheek, down your jaw, and on top of your ear on an equivalent side.The precise reason for cluster headaches is unknown, however cluster headache patterns recommend that abnormalities within the body' mechanism (hypothalamus) play a role. Unlike cephalalgia and tension headaches, cephalalgia usually isn't related to triggers, cherished foods, secretion changes or stress. Once a cluster amount begins, however, drinking alcohol could quickly trigger a ripping headache. For this reason, many folks with cluster headaches avoid alcohol throughout a cluster period. different doable triggers embody the employment of medicines such as nitroglycerin, a drug wont to treat heart disease.

Risk factors Cluster headache

Risk factors for cluster headaches include:

  • Sex. Men are more likely to have cluster headaches.

  • Age. Most people who develop cluster headaches are between ages 20 and 50, although the condition can develop at any age.

  • Smoking. Many people who get cluster headache attacks are smokers. However, quitting smoking usually has no effect on the headaches.

  • Alcohol use. If you have cluster headaches, drinking alcohol during a cluster period may increase your risk of an attack.

  • A family history. Having a parent or sibling who has had cluster headaches might increase your risk.

What is the cause of a cluster headache?

Cluster headaches are not directly life threatening like other forms of headache However the pain these headaches cause is often worse than migraines or even chronic daily headaches Cluster headaches can last for weeks or months at a time and tend to come in clusters hence their name The symptoms with cluster headaches may include: Persistent eye tearing Severe facial pain on one side of the face Sensitivity to light noise and odors on the affected side of your face.

Does cluster headaches go away by itself?

Cluster headaches are one of the worst pains a human can experience The pain is excruciatingly painful and it gets worse as time passes It lasts a short while but this short while seems to last all day long There is no way you can predict when exactly the pain will come; it could strike anytime especially in the middle of your sleep leaving you half asleep and make you scream in pure agony.

Does caffeine help cluster headaches?

Cluster headaches are more common in men and typically first occur during a person's adult years There is some evidence that caffeine may actually help alleviate cluster headaches The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recommends medications as the first line of treatment for cluster headache sufferers; however it also suggests that certain lifestyle changes may be helpful as well.

Does sleep help cluster headaches?

Yes among all the other things sleep does for us Sleep promotes release of hormones that help fight pain receptors in your body It also reduces levels of stress and anxiety which can often trigger the cluster headaches.

Is heat or cold better for cluster headaches?

Cluster headaches occur in groups Typically the headaches will come on weekly and each cluster of attacks can last up to several months These severe headaches typically start suddenly and are described as a sharp or burning pain around one eye temple or side of the head People most often describe their headache as feeling like an ice pick is being pushed through the temple or back of the eyes Unlike migraines which usually have other symptoms including nausea and vomiting people with cluster headaches feel fine between attacks.

Diagnosis Cluster headache

To diagnose a cluster headache, a health care supplier will ought to completely check you. A specialist referred to as a medical specialist or a headache specialist will rule out alternative issues that may cause headaches. You’ll seemingly need to have imaging done, reminiscent of an imaging or CT scan.Cluster headache incorporates a characteristic sort of pain and pattern of attacks. A designation depends on your description of the attacks, as well as your pain, the placement and severity of your headaches, and associated symptoms. However, typically your headaches occur and the way they last are also vital factors. Your doctor can seemingly attempt to pinpoint the kind and reason for your headache mistreatment sure approaches.

Neurological examination

A medical specialty destination could facilitate your doctor's sight of physical signs of a neurological disorder. The exam is sometimes traditional in patients with cluster headaches. Your doctor can use a series of procedures to assess your brain function, as well as testing your senses, reflexes and nerves.

Imaging tests

If you've got uncommon or difficult headaches or Associate in Nursing abnormal neurologic examination, your doctor would possibly suggest alternative tests to rule out other serious causes of head pain, such as a neoplasm or an aneurysm. Common brain imaging tests include:

  • MRI. This uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of your brain and blood vessels.

  • CT scan. This uses a series of X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of your brain.

Treatment Cluster headache

Cluster headaches don't seem to be life threatening, however they will cause severe pain and considerably have an effect on your quality of life. Over-the-counter painkillers, similar to paracetamol, are not effective for headaches as a result of they're too slow to require effect. Instead, you ought to have one or a lot of specialist treatments. Three main treatments are offered to alleviate pain once taken presently when a cluster headache starts.There' no cure for cluster headaches. The goal of treatment is to decrease the severity of pain, shorten the headache amount and stop the attacks. As a result of the pain of a headache coming on suddenly and may subside during a brief time, cluster headache may be troublesome to judge and treat, because it needs fast-acting medications. Some sorts of acute medication will offer some pain relief quickly. The therapies listed below have tried to be best for acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache.

Acute treatments

Fast-acting treatments available from your doctor include:

  • Oxygen. Briefly euphemizing pure O through a mask provides dramatic relief for many who use it. The results of this safe, cheap procedure are felt inside fifteen minutes. O is usually safe and has no side effects. The key disadvantage of oxygen is that you ought to carry an oxygen cylinder and regulator with you, which might make the treatment inconvenient and inaccessible at times. Small, moveable units are available, however some individuals still notice them impractical. 

  • Triptans. The injectable style of sumatriptan (Imitrex), which is often used to treat migraines, is additionally a good treatment for acute cluster headaches. The primary injection could also be given whereas medical observation. Some people may take pleasure in victimizing sumatriptan in nasal spray kind, except for the majority this isn't as effective as associate degree injection and it should take longer to work. Sumatriptan isn't suggested if you have got uncontrolled high force per unit area or heart disease. Another triptan medication, zolmitriptan (Zomig), may be taken in nasal spray form for relief of cluster headache. This medication may be an associate degree possibility if you can't tolerate alternative types of fast-acting treatments. Oral medications are comparatively slow to act and are usually not helpful for acute treatment of cluster headaches. 

  • Octreotide. Octreotide (Sandostatin), an injectable artificial version of the brain secretion somatostatin, is a good treatment for cephalalgia for a few people. However overall, it's less effective and acts less quickly to alleviate pain than triptans. 

  • Local anesthetics. The desensitizing impact of native anesthetics, akin to lidocaine, is also effective against headache pain in some folks once given through the nose (intranasal). 

  • Dihydroergotamine. The injectable type of dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45) could also be an efficient pain reliever for a few folks with cluster headaches. This medication is additionally accessible in associate indrawn (intranasal) form, however this manner hasn't been proven to be effective for cluster headache. 

Preventive treatments

Preventive medical care starts at the onset of the cluster episode with the goal of suppressing attacks. decisive that drugs to use typically depends on the length and regularity of your episodes. underneath the steerage of your doctor, you'll taper off the drugs once the expected length of the cluster episode ends.

  • Calcium channel blockers. The metallic element channel blocker Isoptin (Calan SR, Verelan) is usually the primary selection for preventing cluster headache. Isoptin could also be used with different medications. Occasionally, long term use is required to manage chronic cluster headache. aspect effects could embody constipation, nausea, fatigue, swelling of the ankles and low blood pressure. 

  • Corticosteroids. Inflammation-suppressing medications referred to as corticosteroids, corresponding to Liquid Pred (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos), are fast-acting preventive medications that will be effective for {several} folks with headaches. Your doctor may bring down corticosteroids if your cluster headache condition has started recently or if you've got a pattern of transient cluster periods and long remissions. Although corticosteroids may well be a decent choice to use for several days, serious facet effects such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cataracts make them inappropriate for semi permanent use. 

  • Lithium carbonate. Lithium carbonate (Lithobid), which is employed to treat bipolar disorder, could also be effective in preventing chronic cephalalgia if different medications haven't prevented cluster headaches. facet effects embody tremor, raised thirst and diarrhea. Your doctor will alter the dose to reduce side effects. While you're taking this medication, your blood is going to be checked frequently for the event of more-serious side effects, reminiscent of excretory organ damage. 

  • Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). VNS uses a hand-held controller to deliver electrical stimulation to the pneumogastric nerve through the skin. Although additional analysis is needed, some studies found that VNS helped scale back the frequency of cluster headaches.

  • Nerve block. Injecting a desensitizing agent (anesthetic) and steroid hormone into the world round the bone nerve, set at the rear of your head, would possibly improve chronic cluster headaches. 

  • An os nerve block could also be helpful for temporary relief till long preventive medications take effect. It' typically employed in combination with verapamil. alternative preventive medications used for cephalalgia embody anti-seizure medications, akin to topiramate (Topamax, Qudexy XR).


Rarely, doctors might suggest surgery for folks with chronic cluster headaches who don't notice relief with aggressive treatment or who can't tolerate the medications or their side effects. Sphenopalatine neural structure stimulation involves surgery to implant a neurostimulator that' operated by a hand-held controller. Some analysis showed fast pain relief associated a lower frequency of headaches, however additional studies are needed. Many tiny studies found that bone nerve stimulation on one or each side could also be beneficial. This involves implanting a conductor next to at least one or each occipital nerve. Some surgical procedures for headache commit to injury the nerve pathways thought to be answerable for pain, most ordinarily the trigeminal that serves the world behind and around your eye. However, the semipermanent advantages of harmful procedures are disputed. Also, thanks to the potential complications — together with muscle weakness in your jaw or sensory loss in sure areas of your face and head — it's seldom considered.

Potential future treatments

Researchers are studying several potential treatments for cluster headaches.

  • Occipital nerve stimulation. In this procedure, your MD implants electrodes within the back of your head and connects them to atiny low pacemaker-like device (generator). The electrodes send impulses to stimulate the world of the os nerve, which can block or relieve your pain signals. Many small studies of occipital nerve stimulation found that the procedure reduced pain and frequency of headaches in some individuals with chronic cluster headaches. 

  • Deep brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation could be a promising however hitherto on trial treatment for cluster headaches that don't reply to alternative treatments. During this procedure, doctors implant AN conductor within the neural structure, the world of your brain related to the temporal arrangement of cluster periods. Your physician connects the electrode to a generator that changes your brain's electrical impulses and should relieve your pain. As a result of this involves putting an electrode deep in the brain, there are important risks, like an infection or hemorrhage. Deep brain stimulation of the hypothalamus may offer relief for individuals with severe, chronic cluster headaches that haven't been with success treated with medications.

Lifestyle and home remedies

The following measures may help you avoid a cluster headache attack during a cluster cycle:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Cluster periods will begin once there are changes in your traditional sleep schedule. throughout a cluster period, follow your usual sleep routine. 

  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol consumption, including beer and wine, can quickly trigger a headache during a cluster period.

Alternative medicine

Because headaches may be therefore painful, you'll wish to undertake various or complementary therapies to alleviate your pain. Endocrine has shown modest effectiveness in treating nighttime attacks. There's additionally some proof that capsaicin, used within your nose (intranasally), may scale back the frequency and severity of cluster headache attacks.

Coping and support

Living with cluster headaches can be scary and difficult. The attacks can seem unbearable and make you feel anxious and depressed. Ultimately, they can affect your relationships, your job, and your quality of  life.

 Talking to a counselor or therapist can help you manage the effects of cluster headaches. And joining a headache support group can connect you with others with similar experiences and provide you with information.Your doctor may be able to recommend a therapist or  support group in your area.

Preparing for your appointment

You're probably beginning by seeing your medical care doctor. However, you'll be brought up by a doctor trained in treating brain and system disorders (neurologist). Here's some info to assist you make preparations for your appointment.

What you can do

When you create the appointment, raise if there's something you wish to try and do in advance, corresponding to fast for a particular test.

Keep a headache diary

One of the foremost useful belongings you will do is keep a headache diary. every time you get a headache, write these details that may facilitate your doctor verify your form of headache and find out doable headache triggers.

  • Date. Charting the date and time of each headache can help you recognize patterns.

  • Duration. How long does each headache last?

  • Intensity. Rate your headache pain on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe.

  • Triggers. List possible triggers that might have caused your headache, such as certain foods, sounds, odors, physical activity or oversleeping.

  • Symptoms. Did you have any symptoms before the headache, such as aura?

  • Medications. List all drugs, vitamins and supplements, including dosages, even if they're unrelated to your headache.

  • Relief. Have you had any pain relief, from complete pain relief to none?

Take a friend or friend to your appointment, if possible, to assist you bear in mind the data you receive. List inquiries to raise your doctor. For cluster headaches, basic queries include:

  • What's likely causing my symptoms?

  • What other possible causes are there?

  • What tests do I need?

  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?

  • What treatment do you recommend?

  • What other treatments are there?

  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?

  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?

  • Should I see a specialist?

  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:

  • When did your symptoms begin?

  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?

  • Do your symptoms tend to occur at the same time of day? Do they occur during the same season each year?

  • Does alcohol appear to cause your symptoms?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?

  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

General summary

  1. For immediate relief from cluster headaches over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) may be taken If you have a prescription for stronger drugs such as triptans or ergotamines take them immediately when symptoms first appear in an effort to ward off the pain Medication should always be used in conjunction with self-care options Taking a very warm shower or bath can help relieve headache symptoms for many people as can applying moist heat to your head and neck area You may also try using gentle pressure on your temples and forehead by massaging those areas with your fingers.

  2. A CH headache lasts from two to 20 hours but the average duration is three to four hours Some have reported CH headaches lasting as long as 72 hours Interestingly they do not always occur at the same time of day or night and often occur days weeks or months apart in otherwise healthy people with no other underlying medical problems A CCF can go away on its own without any treatment although doctors sometimes recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin In rare cases a CH may reoccur up to 30 years after it first appeared.

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