A cluster headache is often described as a pain that is as bad as giving birth to a child without the help of painkillers, or even worse than that. It starts as a sharp stabbing pain in the region of one of your eyes and can last anywhere between 15 minutes to three hours. They are so painful that they are called suicide headaches because people who have these headaches have been known to kill themselves just to get rid of the pain.
How a cluster headache is caused
The exact cause of a cluster headache is unknown, but it is noted to originate from the trigeminal nerve in the base of the brain. When activated, this nerve pathway can cause the eye pain and spread to other areas to give rise to the symptoms of cluster headaches.
Symptoms of cluster headache
Cluster headaches have some common symptoms as noted below:
- Type of pain: The pain from a cluster headache tends to occur on one side of the head.
- Severity/intensity of pain: The pain caused by a cluster headache is usually extreme and can be so bad that a person who has it cannot sit still and perform normal activities.
- Location of pain: The pain from a cluster headache can start around the eye and then move to the forehead, nose, temple, cheek and even upper gum.
- Duration: A cluster headache remains for different time periods. Sometimes for as short a time as 15 minutes to as long as three hours, but the pain may recur.
- Frequency of headaches: People who have cluster headaches may suffer as many as three attacks a day and these usually happen at the same time each day, thus being called “alarm clock headaches,”.
Triggers of cluster headaches
The weather is thought to control when cluster headaches occur. They are mostly seen during spring or autumn. Because of this seasonal variation, it is thought that their occurrence is linked to allergies or stress due to workload. However, it is believed that this seasonal variation is due to activation of the trigeminal nerve pathway by the hypothalamus.
Cluster headaches also frequently occur in people who smoke or drink in excess. A person who has cluster headaches tends to have their condition aggravated by further smoking or drinking.
The diagnosis of a cluster headaches at pain clinics Las Vegas is usually done by examining the patient’s previous history of headaches and after a complete physical examination has been done. Since they are so one of a kind, the way the cluster headache presents itself is usually enough to confirm that the person is suffering from one. Tests such as an MRI or a CT scan can be done to further rule out any other conditions that may be causing the pain. A person may also be required to go through an eye examination at pain clinics Las Vegas to ensure that the pain is not being caused due to some underlying eye disease. There is no other specific test at pain clinics Las Vegas that can be conducted to verify that a headache is indeed a cluster headache.