A cluster headache is a rare type of headache.
It is one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes, a droopy eyelid, and a stuffy nose. The attacks are separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Cluster headaches may be confused with other common types of headaches such as migrainessinus headache, and tension headache.
Doctors do not know exactly what causes cluster headaches. They seem to be related to the body's sudden release of histamine chemical in the body released during an allergic response or serotonin chemical made by nerve cells in the area of a nerve in the face called the trigeminal Headache and facial drooping.
A problem in a small area at the base of the brain called the hypothalamus may be involved. More men than women are affected. The headaches can occur at any age, but are most common in the 20s through middle age. They tend to run in families. A cluster headache begins as a severe, sudden headache. The headache commonly strikes Headache and facial drooping to 3 hours after you fall asleep.
But it can also occur when you are awake. The headache tends to happen daily at the same time of day. Attacks can last for months. They can alternate with periods without headaches episodic or they can go on for a year or more without stopping chronic.
Your health care provider can diagnose this type of headache by performing a physical exam and asking about your symptoms and medical history. Headache and facial drooping a physical exam is done during an attack, the exam will usually reveal Horner syndrome one-sided eyelid drooping or a small pupil. These symptoms will not be present at other times.
No other nervous system neurologic changes will be seen. Tests, such as an MRI of the headmay be needed to rule out other causes of the headaches. You may need more than one of these treatments to control your headache.
Your provider may have you try several medicines before deciding which works best for you. Pain medicines and narcotics do not usually relieve cluster headache pain, because they take too long to work.
Surgical treatment may be recommended for you when all other treatments have failed. One such treatment is a neurostimulator.
This device delivers tiny electrical signals to certain nerves such as the occipital nerve in the scalp. Your provider can tell you more about surgery.
Avoid smoking, alcohol use, certain foods, and other things that trigger your headaches. A headache diary can help you identify your headache triggers.
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When you get a headache, write down the following:. Review your diary with your provider to identify triggers or a pattern to your headaches. This can help you and your provider create a treatment plan.
Knowing your triggers can help you avoid them. The headaches may go away on their own or you may need treatment to prevent them. The following medicines may also be used to treat or prevent headache symptoms:.
Cluster headaches are not life threatening. They usually do not cause permanent changes to the brain. But they are long-term chronicand often painful enough to interfere with work and life.
If you smoke, now is a good time to stop. Alcohol use and any foods Headache and facial drooping trigger a cluster headache may need to be avoided. Medicines may prevent cluster headaches in some cases. Histamine headache; Headache - histamine; Migrainous neuralgia; Headache - cluster; Horton's headache; Vascular headache - cluster; Episodic cluster headache; Chronic cluster headache.
Headache and other craniofacial pain. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. Hoffmann J, May A. Diagnosis, pathophysiology, and management of cluster headache.
Practical Management of Pain. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Cluster headaches may be triggered by: Alcohol and cigarette smoking High altitudes trekking and air travel Headache and facial drooping light including sunlight Exertion physical activity Heat hot weather or hot baths Foods high in nitrites bacon and preserved meats Certain medicines Cocaine.
Cluster headache pain is usually: Swelling under or around the eye may affect both eyes Excessive tearing Red eye Droopy eyelid Runny nose or stuffy nose on the same side as the head pain Red, flushed face, with extreme sweating. Treatment for cluster headaches involves: Triptan medicines, such as sumatriptan Imitrex.
Anti-inflammatory steroid medicines such as prednisone. Starting with a high dose, then slowly decreasing it over 2 to 3 weeks.
Injections of dihydroergotamine DHEwhich can stop cluster attacks within 5 minutes Warning: When you get a headache, write down the following: Day and time the pain began What you ate and drank over the past 24 hours How much you slept What you were doing and where you were right before the pain started How long the headache lasted and what made it stop Review your diary with your provider to identify triggers or a pattern to your headaches.
The following medicines may also be used to treat or prevent headache symptoms: Allergy medicines Antidepressants Blood pressure medicines Seizure medicine. When to Contact a Headache and facial drooping Professional.
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