Cluster headache manifests as an excruciating pain around one eye and/or temple. They can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to several hours, and are usually more intense than migraine or tension headaches. Cluster headache gets its name from the pattern of attacks: they occur in clusters, sometimes at the same time each day for weeks or even months, then disappear for prolonged periods.

During the cluster headache, the person is agitated and may become violent or even suicidal.

Cluster headache is uncommon, especially among women (they make up for it in the migraine category, though). Cluster headaches tend to start in middle age or later, and there is some genetic component.

Prevention of cluster headache

The underlying cause of cluster headaches is not known. Current research indicates that there may be brain, nerve, and vascular etiologies. Identifiable triggers such as alcohol, smoking, or stress should be avoided. Imitrex injections may be helpful.

Cluster headaches seem to be related to the hypothalamus. The neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin tend to be lower in people with cluster headaches.

Although cluster headaches are distinct from migraines, they are similar in many ways. Many of the drugs used to treat migraines are also used for cluster headaches, including the triptans (imitrex, naratriptan, etc).

Daylength plays a role in many cluster headaches; many sufferers tend to get headaches in a particular season, especially summer and winter. The length of days is known to affect a body's circadian rythms. Some people experience unrelenting chronic cluster headaches.

While migraines are more common in women, cluster headache sufferers tend to be men.

Just to add to bonnet's details, cluster headaches can last from a few hours right up to weeks and occasionally months and are best described by an old G.P. of mine as 'Hell on earth'. They can be caused by jolts to the body (especially the head) - such physical knocks also serve to worsen the headache and prolong it too.

As with some migraines, light can affect the sufferer, as can noise too. My G.P. went on to say that medication is not, on the whole, considered all that effective, and the sufferer really has no choice but to sit out the attack.

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