Cluster headache : Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Definition of cluster headache

Cluster headache is the most severe form of primary headache . It appears suddenly, extremely intense and painful. Symptoms can be felt day and night, for several weeks. Intense pain is generally felt on one side of the head and at eye level. The associated pain is so intense that it can cause nausea.

Other clinical signs can also be associated with cluster headache: swelling, redness and tearing of the eyes and nose. In some cases, nocturnal agitations, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) or even hyper or hypotension may be experienced by the patient with cluster headache.

This pathology particularly affects people between 20 and 50 years old. In addition, any individual, regardless of their age, can be affected by the disease. A slight predominance is observed in men, and more in smokers. The frequency of appearance of clinical signs are, in general, between 2 and 3 times a day.

Cluster headache can last a lifetime, with symptoms often appearing at the same times (usually spring and fall).

READ ALSO:  Allergy to bedbugs: how to recognize an allergy?

 Causes of cluster headache

The exact cause of cluster headache is currently not known. Nevertheless, certain activities, and lifestyles, can be at the origin of the development of the disease.

Smokers are at greater risk of developing such disease.

The presence of the disease within the family circle can also be an increased factor in the development of cluster headache in a person. Which suggests the existence of a potential genetic factor.

Symptoms of the disease may be increased under certain conditions: during alcohol consumption, or during exposure to strong odors (paint, gasoline, perfume, etc.).

 Who is affected by cluster headache?

Everyone can be concerned about the development of cluster headache. However, people between the ages of 20 and 50 are at increased risk.

Smokers are also at greater risk for developing the disease. Finally, the presence of the disease within the family circle can also be a predominant factor.

 Symptoms of neck pain

The symptoms of cluster headache come on quickly and intensely. It is mainly a sharp pain (very intense) in one side of the head, and usually around one eye. Patients often describe the intensity of this pain as sharp, fiery (with a burning sensation) and piercing.

READ ALSO:  Oxyuriasis - infection with Enterobius vermicularis

Patients with cluster headache often feel restless and nervous during peak symptoms due to the intensity of the pain.

Other clinical signs can add to this pain:

  • redness and tearing of the eye
  • swelling in the eyelid
  • narrowing of the pupil
  • intense sweating on the face
  • the nose which tends to run.

Symptomatic peaks usually last between 15 minutes and 3 hours.

 How to treat cluster headache?

No cure for cluster headache currently exists, yet the severe pain can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life.

The management of the disease will then be targeted on a reduction in symptoms. Prescribing painkillers, such as paracetamol, may be associated with the disease. Moreover, these drugs are often inadequate in the face of the intensity of the pain. Therefore, the drug treatments capable of reducing pain are:

  • sumatriptan injections
  • the use of sumatriptan or zolmitriptan nasal sprays
  • oxygen therapy.