Cluster Headache Symptoms
Here is an incapacitating disorder that hits a small portion of the population without any forewarning-cluster headaches. Their attacks come at what seem to be haphazard time periods-which is exactly how cluster headaches got their title. Sufferers of cluster headaches may have to endure them for days or even weeks on end, and still be able to go for a year, two years or even more without a cluster headache. Stress, drugs, and alcohol are all thought to bring on attacks of cluster headaches; however, the real cause is not truly known. However, with none of these factors, a person may still end up with a series of cluster headaches at any point in time. Due to the severity and clear-cut symptoms, it is easy to tell the difference between a normal headache and a cluster headache.
Cluster headache sufferers will frequently have a runny nose or eyes. The pain, usually described by sufferers as an icepick, has a tendency to concentrate in the area at the back of one eye. This enormously painful feeling usually turns into a highly severe, painful feeling often setting off a pain emergency in the patient. The pain is usually severe enough to create excessive reactions and very illogical behavior. It is imperative that the sufferer of a cluster headache get immediate treatment. Easing the overwhelming pain that often goes along with cluster headaches can be done with pain killers and sedatives, such as narcotics and tranquilizers.
Due to the randomness of cluster headaches, treatment is not easily accomplished. Changing your lifestyle tends to be the better choice than being stuck on medicine for the rest of your life-and not knowing if the medicine will work or not. Since one of the biggest triggers is drugs and alcohol, avoiding them would be a good first step. Due to the fact that avoiding a cluster headache is tricky at best, treatments like narcotics, or tranquilizers are a necessity to have at hand.
Cluster headache is considered to be one of the most severe types of headache in which the most prominent feature is the high intensity of pain experienced by the patient. It is a neurological disorder and in some cases the pain is far more severe than that experienced during a full blast migraine attack or during childbirth.
Cluster headache symptoms are often confused with those of a migraine as the pain is very intense but the two are different disorders and need separate treatments. Cluster headache is also known as suicide headache and is often taken too lightly by a number of doctors. In extreme cases, where the patient experiences debilitating pain, it is treated as a medical emergency. Since this disorder is not very common and the symptoms are quite vague, it is quite difficult for doctors to diagnose it at once, therefore, many patients are unable to receive appropriate treatment in medical emergency rooms.
Symptoms of Cluster Headache:
Most headaches respond to analgesics and general pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol. But in the case of cluster headaches these medicines fail to have any effect on the intensity of pain.
Cluster headache also does not respond to biofeedback.
Cluster headache is usually episodic and a single attack lasts fro 15 minutes to 3 hours. The pain can also subside all of a sudden and then begin again.
Most of the time the headache is unilateral or on one side of the head.
Many patients also report of suffering from ‘side shifting’ pain in the middle of cluster episodes. This means that the headache can also be bilateral but in very few cases.
Cluster headache is often mistaken for brain tumor or multiples sclerosis unless the patients undergo the required tests.
The exact cause of cluster headaches is still unknown but many factors seem to trigger it such as excessive intake of alcohol, cigarette smoking, exposure to toxins such as hydrocarbons and lack of sleep. There is no specific treatment for these headaches but various preventive medications known as abortives are administered to patients suffering from this type of headaches. Transitional medications and steroids are also given to prevent cluster headache episodes. Acute medications comprising of injections and inhalers are given to the patient to reduce the intensity of the pain and duration of an episode as they are more effective than oral medicines. The last option left for patients suffering from crippling pain is surgery, but it is rarely recommended.