Cluster headache

What is cluster headache?

Also known as cluster headache or Horton’s headache, it is one of the most painful types of headache there is. This type of headache comes on quickly and, in most cases, without warning.

Men are more prone to it, especially between the ages of 20 and 50. Smoking and family history may also increase the risk.

Prognosis of the disease

Cluster headache is not life-threatening, but it can interfere to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the symptoms.

In general, patients eventually get the headaches under control and, as time passes, they become less recurrent.

Cluster headache symptoms

Among the most frequent signs that we can find during this pathology are the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Severe pain: usually located in, behind, or around one eye. May spread to other areas of the face, head, or neck.
  • Tearing
  • Redness of the affected area
  • Drooping of the eyelid in the affected area
  • Paleness or flushing of the face
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • One-sided pain
  • Swelling around the affected eye
  • Sweating in the painful area

Severe pain in, behind, or around one eye is a common symptom.

Medical tests for cluster headache

There is no specific test for the diagnosis of cluster headache. For this reason, the specialist should perform the following steps:

  • Analyze the clinical history
  • Detect the area and type of pain.
  • Evaluate the symptoms
  • Know the onset, frequency and duration of the pain.
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What are the causes of cluster headache?

The exact origin of the causes is not known, although it is believed that the hypothalamus may be involved.

Unlike migraine, this type of headache is not related to triggering factors, such as stress or hormonal changes.

It should be noted that, in a period of outbreaks, alcohol can trigger a severe headache. Nitroglycerin is also a type of medication that could trigger a cluster headache.

Can it be prevented?

It is difficult to prevent, but avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and certain foods is recommended.

It may also be helpful to note the factors that triggered the condition:

  • Day and time the pain started
  • Foods eaten in the last day
  • Time of sleep
  • Activities you were doing before the headache began
  • The time of the pain and how it stopped

Treatments for cluster headaches

The specialist, in case of acute pain, will propose an analgesic treatment to stop the symptomatology.

There are also some medications that can help to start a preventive treatment. Complementary therapies can also help.

Which specialist treats it?

To treat cluster headache, a specialist in neurology should be consulted.