Cluster headaches are similar to migraines in that the headache pain is related to an inflammatory process that results from the interaction of the blood vessels that cover the brain with the trigeminal nerve.
However, with cluster headaches, it's believed that an abnormality in the hypothalamus may be the actual cause the cluster headache pattern.
Although roughly 75% of all migraine sufferers are women, approximately 90% of the 1,000,000 cluster headache sufferers who live in the United States are men. Their headaches can usually last from several weeks to several months. Then they could completely disappear for years, only to return at some point in the future.
About 20% of sufferers experience chronic cluster headaches that continue throughout the year.
The remaining 80% of sufferers find that clusters tend to be seasonal in nature. They generally affect them in the spring or fall. That's why these headaches may be mistakenly related to business stress or allergies.
A cluster headache will start suddenly with little if any warning. The sufferer may feel a burning sensation or a little discomfort on one side of their head. This discomfort usually lasts from thirty to forty-five minutes.
When the headache arrives it can last from several minutes to a few hours and will then suddenly disappear. However, it will return later in the day.
Most people who suffer from clusters get anywhere from one to four headaches a day. They are often awakened in the middle of the night with the headache. Then they will reoccur at approximately the same time every day.
The pain is usually on one side of the head and stays there until that series of headaches has run their course. However, when a new series begins, it can shift to the other side of the head.
The pain is usually localized in the area of the eye or behind the person's eye. The pupil might contract and the eye may droop or become swollen. It's quite common for that eye to tear and for the nostril on that side of the face to become congested.
The pain may also radiate to the neck and/or to that side of their face. Their face might get flushed and they can also experience excessive perspiration.
What Triggers A Cluster Headache?
During a cluster cycle even a small amount of alcohol can precipitate an attack. However, this does not happen outside of the cycle. There have not been many other triggers identified.
Although some victims may initially try over the counter medications such as acetaminophen to alleviate their pain, professional help is necessary if the sufferer wants to try to prevent cluster attacks.
Because an overdose of acetaminophen can cause liver damage and/or death, anyone who takes this usually safe over-the-counter medication should not take more than the recommended dosage.
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Article Added on Friday, April 15, 2011
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