Cluster headache (CH) is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, severe headaches on one side of the head, typically around the eye. There are often accompanying autonomic symptoms during the headache such as eye watering, nasal congestion and swelling of and around the eye, all confined to the side of the head with the pain.
Cluster headache belongs to a group of primary headache disorders, classified as trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias or (TACs). The condition is named for the demonstrated grouping of headache attacks occurring together (cluster). Individuals typically experience repeated attacks of excruciatingly severe unilateral headache pain. CH attacks often occur periodically; spontaneous remissions may interrupt active periods of pain, though about 10–15% of chronic CH never remits. The cause has not been identified.
While there is no cure, cluster headaches can sometimes be prevented and acute attacks treated. Recommended treatments for acute attack include oxygen or a fast acting triptan. Primary recommended prevention is verapamil. Steroids may be used to prevent a recurrence until verapamil takes effect. The condition affects approximately 0.2% of the general population, and men are more commonly affected than women, by a ratio of about 2.5:1 to 3.5:1.
What causes Cluster headache?
Cluster headaches can be caused by a number of factors. Many Cluster headaches can be traced to neck, jaw (TMJ) or cranial bone (head) misalignment causing stress to the nerves, which in turn affect blood flow and hypothalamus (body’s biological clock). When the bones of the spine or head lose their normal position or motion (spinal subluxation or spinal misalignment), the sensitive nerves and blood vessels to the head become compromised. When these delicate tissues are irritated, they can produce certain types of headaches. The nerves of the neck, jaw or head when irritated can lead to head pain. Sometimes the pain can radiate into the face or eyes. These headaches can make it difficult to think clearly and function. Misalignments of the spinal vertebrae can occur during the birth process, falls, sports activities, motor vehicle accidents, sudden injury to the jaw, head or neck area, bad posture, food reaction (food allergies), medication side effects, sinus problems or simply the stresses of daily living. Hence, It is very common for headache and/or Cluster headaches sufferers to experience neck pain and stiffness.
Cluster headache Triggers
- Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odours, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.
- Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.
- Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern.
- Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull, pounding headache that may be accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite, which dilates blood vessels, is found in such products as heart medicine and dynamite, but is also used as a chemical to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats containing sodium nitrite can cause headaches.
- Eating foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can result in headache. Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavour enhancer.
- Headache can also result from exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead. Children who ingest flakes of lead paint may develop headaches. So may anyone who has contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
- Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.
Dangers of Drugs for Cluster headache Treatment
Medical doctors generally treat cluster headache symptoms with medications, such as beta-blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Regularly taking some of the most popular painkillers on the market [paracetamol, aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen six or seven days per week over a two-year period] is linked to a much greater risk of stroke and heart attack from higher blood pressure, according to research from a large American study.
Powerful drugs can numb your nervous system so the pain doesn’t register. While these approaches may be convenient, they can cause adverse effects and kidney or liver damage. Worse, they don’t correct the underlying cause of the headache.
How to Relieve Cluster headache Naturally:
Here are several simple techniques to relieve a cluster headache.
A Cluster headache can be downright debilitating. Take note of the following natural remedies to help avoid that next attack.
- Rest your eyes periodically. Tension headaches are often caused by eye fatigue.
- Close your eyes, cup them with the palms of your hands, and apply light pressure for 2 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if your vision is blurry for a few seconds when you finish.
- Place wet peppermint teabags on your eyelids for 5 minutes. Closing your eyes will rest them as the peppermint soothes them.
- Massage the temples, shoulders, back of the head, and neck, or any other area where you feel tension. Tense areas are easy to recognise because they feel tight and hard. Tension in the head, neck, and shoulders can often be the cause of headaches.
- Drink herbal tea. Many herbs, such as peppermint and chamomile, are said to have calming properties. Of course, the simple act of sipping a hot beverage from a mug is also psychologically calming, so be sure to go by whatever feels best.
- Acupressure: is helpful for some people. There are pressure that when pressed gently for a of couple minutes can provide relief.
- Sleep: Sometimes simply lying down and going to sleep for a little bit can work wonders.
- Massage: Gently massage the sinus cavities with your fingertips.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol consumption, including beer and wine, often can quickly trigger a headache during a cluster period
- Chiropractic Care: Patients who suffer from cluster headaches usually prefer chiropractic adjustments, along with other chiropractic care methods including massage and trigger point therapy. These methods can either be done alone or in combination with one another to realign the skeletons and eliminate the cycle of pain. It can also help to release muscular stress that could bring about moderate to severe levels of pain. Patients who suffer from cluster headaches are recommended to undergo several sessions to find effective relief and treatment from their condition. This comes as a result of reducing the amount of nerve irritation and facilitate in muscle relaxation. For a more effective long-term treatment plan against headaches, chiropractors recommend regular exercise, stretching, proper posture, and relaxation techniques to help alleviate the pain and symptoms of this condition.