A cluster headache is an uncommon type of headache that occurs more frequently in men than in women. The onset is sudden and the intensity high. The excruciating pain that comes with it is usually behind one eye accompanied with redness and swelling. The nose also becomes red and runny on that side of the face.
The headache can last for a few minutes or continue for hours. The average span is 45 to 90 minutes. It occurs at the same time everyday for several weeks till the cluster is over. These headaches usually last 4 to 8 weeks and may recur every few months.
Cluster headaches are not related to other illnesses and are not hereditary. Some of the causes are medications like nitroglycerine, heavy smoking, a disturbance in you sleep pattern or a disruption in the working of the hypothalamus which controls the body’s biological clock.
During a cluster period, keep to your usual routine, be calm and avoid changing your sleep pattern. Any changes in a sleep pattern tend to aggravate the condition. Alcohol and smoking should be avoided during this period. Stress may bring on the attacks.
Two medicines are generally prescribed. The first is preventive to reduce the frequency of attacks and the number of headaches. The second is to relieve the intensity of pain during an attack. Oral medications are generally slow in acting so what might be prescribed are through an inhaler, a rectal suppository of an injection. Another means of quick relief is inhalation of pure oxygen.
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