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Cluster Headaches - Essential Overview Guide

Aug 17, 2007
Suffered by over one million people in the United States alone (with 90% being male between the ages of 20 and 50), cluster headaches is one of the least common types of headaches. While the cause is unknown for this very debilitating type of headache, it has been reported that using alcohol during an attack increases its severity. However, no proof has been cited to conclude that alcohol use actually causes and onset of a cluster of headaches.

What Is A Cluster Headache?
Similar to the severity of a migraine, cluster headaches start suddenly, offering little warning of its advancement. Some people have reported a feeling of discomfort or a mild one-sided burning sensation in the head and face prior to an attack. The pain may be short lived (often less than an hour), but will disappear, only to return later in the day and into the evening.

Most sufferers report as many as four or more of these short-lived headaches in a single day, with the duration of the series, lasting for days, weeks, or in the most severe cases, months. While the headache periods may last for prolonged periods of time, sufferers usually are granted months or years of relief in between these painful attacks. Sufferers are most affected during the spring and fall, which often makes them susceptible to misdiagnosis as less serious allergy headaches.

What Does A Cluster Headache Feel Like?
When experiencing a cluster headache. Sufferers most commonly report pain on only one side of the head and face during a single series. It should be noted, however, that the pain can move to the other side once one cycle is over, and a new one begins. Most commonly felt behind the eye, the pain from a cluster headache often radiates to the face and down the neck. The effected eye may become swollen, droopy and begin to weep. Excessive sweating is not uncommon during an attack, leaving the sufferer with a flushed face.

How Do I Treat A Cluster Headache?
Due to the fact the chronic cluster headache periods are continuous, patients often do not respond favorably to regular forms of headache therapy. However, preventative therapy administered as soon as symptoms begin may help to lesson the severity and duration of symptoms. Some common forms of treatment include:

Histamine Desensitization.
Oxygen Inhalation.
Surgical Intervention.
They may not be as effective as some treatments; taking analgesics, using massage therapy and relaxation techniques. Using preventative prescription headache medications have also been used successfully by some patients.
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