Cluster Migraines: The True Definition of Suffering!

Cluster migraines are really unpredictable and painful. As is the classical migraine attack, but this type of migraine can be soul destroying. The technical classification and correct name to use is actually cluster headache. (ichd). 

What type of headache can disappear for a few months, or years and then hit hard and fast? This one can.

Cluster Migraines Are Brutal

The term cluster headache refers to a type of headache that happens over a period of time.

A person who suffers from cluster headaches experiences one to three headaches per day over a period of a couple of weeks to as long as three months continuously with no break. 

A cluster headache is the least common type of all the headaches and is more common in men than women.

There is potential for these headaches to completely disappear or go into remission for months or even years and then start to recur. Thus, I might say one could become engulfed by an intermittent world of intense, unbearable, pain.

Cluster Migraines

What Do Migraines and Cluster Headaches Have in Common?

There are many experts that believe migraines and cluster headaches have a common cause that begins in the trigeminal nerve which carries the feeling of sensation from the head to the brain.

Migraines usually stem from a nerve storm causing blood vessel spasms in the head, but typically only last four to seventy two hours. 

Migraine pain can range anywhere from mild to severe and is typically located on one side of the head, the back of the neck and or around the face and eyes. Symptoms accompanying classic migraine types can include such things as nausea, vomiting, stuffy nose, watery eyes, dizziness and vision problems.

Cluster headaches are vascular and appear in cycles. The pain is so severe that they have been called suicide headaches. The pain with cluster headaches is usually on one side of the face and can be accompanied by nasal congestion, watery eyes, and a runny nose.

Cluster headaches normally come on faster and leave quicker than a classical migraine.

The similarities which link the migraine and the cluster headaches, include the one sided pain and the congestion.

Migraines are typically a moderate to severe throbbing quality.

The pain experienced with the cluster headache is usually severe and sharp... suicidal even.

They Are More Prevalent in Men

Typically, migraines are more common in women and may or may not have a predictable pattern.

With the cluster headaches the attacks typically come in a pattern or repetitive cycle and are more prevalent in men. 

You don't often hear that. We forget that millions of men get migraines too. Ok, I forget.

Always remember that although the terms usually or typically are used a lot here, there is always room for variation from person to person and migraine to migraine.

These are the typical traits, but these headaches are often hard to diagnosis.

Both types of headaches can include pain that is not just on one side of the head and at times there is actually no pain with a migraine, only the aggravating symptoms.

Each one of us will have our own unique experience with cluster migraines, this is a most difficult condition to live with. 

You Never Get Just One

Cluster Migraines in Men

If you are having cluster headaches, then needless to say, you will not have just one headache.

You will have several in a series of headaches and you will have them on a regular basis.

There are some sufferers of cluster headaches that do not have any periods of remission, having a continuous series of these terrible headaches.

With this type of migraine you really need to sort out a pain management strategy with your doctor as soon as you can. They might also recommend getting some extra migraine support from a professional pain counselor.

I encourage you to learn new coping skills and find new ways to manage with this chronic condition in your life.

Here are some pages you might like to read now:

Available Treatment for Cluster Migraines

There are medications that can be prescribed for cluster migraines, but they have been limited in their success. Here is a great PDF you can print out about cluster treatment and medications

If you are right in the middle of the headache, one of the best treatments is in the prescribing of pure oxygen for you to breathe. This has shown to be effective approximately 70% of the time. 

If treatment is not successful with oxygen therapy, you can consider having Botox injections and there is a surgery available that will get rid of the nerve itself. Or nerves.

There is risk with the surgery, but some people feel it is worth the risk because of the severity of the pain. The repeated cycle. Over and over.

FDA Approves Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device for Cluster Headache

The gammaCore (electroCore LLC) device marks the first release of a hand-held, neck-applied device for this headache type.
 
"The FDA release of gammaCore is an important advance in the treatment of the pain associated with cluster headache," Stephen Silberstein, MD, director of the Headache Center at Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said in the company statement.

The device "does not have the side effects or dose limitations of commonly prescribed treatments or the need for invasive implantation procedures, which can be inconvenient, costly, and high-risk," added Dr Silberstein. (3)

I have chosen to combine traditional and alternative approaches to deal with my migraines.

I use this combination of: ice packs for migraine relief, medication (triptan), and being proactive with diet, acupuncture, pain counseling and yoga. 

I would seriously consider trying Botox injections or the gammaCore device to see if I could get and maintain some relief from cluster migraines. 

What Do You Do?

What do you do that helps stop this type of migraine?




Cluster Migraines References and Important link:
1. Visit: clusterbusters.org
2. The International Classification of Headache Disorders 3rd edition (2016) Available [Online] at: https://www.ichd-3.org/
3. MedScape (Apr. 18, 2017) FDA Approves Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device for Cluster Headache. Available [Online] at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/878763



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