Cluster Headache Treatment

Overview

Cluster headaches are among the most intense types of headaches, as they occur in cyclical cycles or cluster intervals. A cluster headache is caused by significant pain in or around one eye on one side of the head that wakes you up in the middle of the night. Cluster episodes last from weeks to months and are frequently followed by remission periods, during which the headaches stop. During the remission period, there are no headaches for months, if not years. Cluster headaches are uncommon and do not pose a life-threatening threat. Cluster headache attacks can be made shorter and less painful with the right treatment. In addition, medications can help you to have fewer cluster headaches. Cluster headaches have two dominant forms: episodic cluster headaches, and chronic cluster headaches.
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Cluster Headache: Symptoms & Characteristics

Symptoms

Cluster headaches hit suddenly and unexpectedly, and you may experience migraine-like nausea and aura first. A few of the most common indications and symptoms of a headache are as follows:

  • Uncomfortable pain that starts in, behind, or around one eye and spreads to other parts of your face, head, and neck.
  • Pain on one side
  • Anxiety
  • Tearing excessively
  • Redness in the affected eye or swelling around the affected eye
  • A stuffy or watery nose on the affected side
  • Forehead or facial sweating
  • Face flushing or pale skin (pallor)
  • On the affected side, drooping eyelid

A cluster headache can cause certain migraine-like symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound, though on one side.

Signs & Symptoms

Cluster Period Characteristics

A cluster phase might span anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Each cluster period’s start date and duration may be consistent from one period to the next. Cluster periods, for example, can occur on a seasonal basis, such as every spring or every fall.

The majority of people suffer from episodic cluster headaches. The headaches in episodic cluster headaches last from a week to a year, followed by a pain-free remission period that can continue up to a year before another cluster headache appears.


Cluster Period:

  • Headaches occur on a daily basis, sometimes countless times a day.
  • An episode might last anywhere from 15 mins to three hours.
  • The episodes frequently happen at the same time every day.
  • Most attacks happen at night, 1 to 2 hours after you go to bed.

The pain disappears quickly as swiftly as it began, with the intensity suddenly decreasing. Most people are pain-free yet fatigued after an attack.

When To See A Doctor

When you start experiencing cluster headaches, take the time to consult your doctor so you can rule out other disorders. Despite their severity, headaches typically don’t indicate an underlying health condition like a brain tumor or aneurysm. However, headaches can occasionally indicate serious underlying conditions such as a brain tumor or ruptured blood vessels in the brain. In addition, if you have a history of headaches, see your doctor if you feel different symptoms or the pattern changes. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, seek medical help right once:
  • Headache that may be sudden and severe, like thunderclaps.
  • It may be an indication of a stroke, meningitis, encephalitis, or brain tumor. Chest pain that is accompanied by a fever, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, numbness, or speaking difficulties
  • When a head injury happens, even if it is a minor fall or bump, the headache can worsen
  • An unexpected, severe headache
  • The intensity and pattern of a headache that changes over time
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Causes

Cluster headaches have no clear cause, but their pattern suggests that defects in the body’s biological clock (hypothalamus) are responsible. In contrast to migraines and tension headaches, cluster headaches are not associated with triggers, such as certain foods, hormones, or stress. A splitting headache may occur quickly after drinking alcohol during a cluster period, however. During cluster headaches, many people avoid drinking alcohol. You might also be at risk if you take medications that treat heart conditions, like nitroglycerin.

Risk factors

Risk factors for cluster headaches include:

Sex

Cluster headaches are more common among men.

Age

Cluster headaches are most common in people between 22 and 52, although it can affect anyone at any age.

Smoking

Smokers are more likely to suffer cluster headache attacks. The headaches do not usually disappear after quitting smoking.

Alcohol Use

A person who suffers from cluster headaches may be more likely to suffer an attack when drinking alcohol during the cluster period.

Family History

It may increase your risk if you have a parent or sibling who has suffered from cluster headaches.

Cluster Headache: Diagnosis


The pain and attacks of cluster headache are characterized by a specific pattern. You should describe your headache, the location and severity of the pain, and any symptoms you are experiencing in order to make a proper diagnosis. The frequency and duration of headaches are other key considerations.

Some approaches will be used by your doctor to identify the type and cause of your headache.

Neurological Examination

Your doctor may detect neurological disorders by performing a neurological examination. An examination for cluster headache patients is usually normal. During the assessment, your doctor will test your senses, reflexes, and nerves to determine how well your brain functions.

Imaging tests

A doctor might suggest imaging tests if you experience unusual or complicated headaches, or if your neurological examination is abnormal. This is in order to rule out other potentially serious causes of head pain, such as a tumor or an aneurysm. Tests that are commonly performed on the brain include:

MRI

It produces detailed images of your brain and blood vessels by using both a powerful magnetic field and radio waves.

CT Scan

An X-ray is used to construct detailed cross-sectional images of your brain.

Cluster Headache Treatment at Painmd

Cluster headaches cannot be cured. During treatment, pain is curtailed, headache times are shortened, and attacks are prevented. Cluster headaches are difficult to diagnose and treat because they come on suddenly and disappear within a short period of time. As a result, medications with a fast effect are required. Pain relief can be provided quickly by certain types of acute medication. In the treatment of cluster headache in both its acute and preventative stages, the following therapies have shown the most promised results.

Acute Cluster Headache Treatments

At Padda Institute, our specialists offer the treatments for the acute cluster headaches. The chronic cluster headache treatments offered are as follow:

Oxygen Treatment For Cluster Headaches

The treatment includes use of a mask to inhale pure oxygen providing dramatic relief. Results are usually felt within 15 minutes of this inexpensive, safe procedure. The general experience of oxygen is safe and without complications. As an oxygen treatment, oxygen cylinders and regulators need to be carried with you, which can be inconvenient and sometimes impossible. Many people find portable units impractical, even though small, portable units are available.

Triptans For Cluster Headaches

Sumatriptan injections (Imitrex) are also helpful for treating acute cluster headaches. Patients may receive their first injection under medical supervision. Nasal sprays may be effective for some people, but aren’t as effective as injections for most people, and may take longer to work. However, people with severe hypertension or heart disease shouldn’t consume sumatriptan. Cluster headaches can also be relieved with zolmitriptan (Zomig), another triptan medication. If you are not able to tolerate other types of fast-acting treatments, this medication may be an option. It is difficult to treat cluster headaches acutely with oral medications because they are relatively slow to work and often ineffective. Always share your medical history with your doctor before starting any medications.

Octreotide For Cluster Headache

Cluster headache can be effectively treated with octreotide (Sandostatin), an injectable synthetic version of the brain hormone somatostatin. Overall, it is less effective and less fast-acting than triptans in relieving pain.

Local Anesthetics For Cluster Headache

Some patients may experience relief from cluster headache pain when lidocaine is given nasally (intranasally).

Dihydroergotamine For Cluster Headache

Some people suffering from cluster headaches may benefit from injectable dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45). A similar medication is available as an inhaled (intranasal) formulation, but this isn’t proven to relieve cluster headaches.

Cluster Headache Care at Padda Institute

The physicians at Padda Institute are highly qualified to diagnose and treat headaches of all types, including cluster, & chronic headaches. They will coordinate your treatment with your primary doctor.

Your Padda Institute Care Team

The Team Approach

You might be evaluated and treated by a team of Padda Institute neurologists in addition to your treating physician.

Individualised Care

Choosing the right treatment for you is a team effort between you and the doctors at Padda Institute. There is no cure for cluster headaches, but doctors will help you manage them.

Care Coordination

Coordinating your medical care will be done by your doctor and your primary doctor.

Experts at Padda Institute

Many types of headaches are studied by Padda Institute researchers, who have made significant advances in headache research. At Painmd, specialists treat many people with cluster headaches each year.
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