Bad things come in bunches, too...
This marks the last installment in our series of blog posts dedicated to addressing therapies for the most common types of physical pain. It all began with a conversation about back pain, and ends with the transition to the current conversation about headaches that we made four weeks ago. This week, we continue the discussion, but first. . .
A review, what is headache pain?
Pain in general is the body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. These articles will focus on the types of headache pain that I treat most often in my practice.
Generally, my patients experience one of the following types of headaches:
Identifying cluster headaches
Cluster headaches are the least common and tend to be sneaky — they can mimic migraine symptoms but the duration is very short. They hit you without warning and the onset of pain is very fast.
Usually the pain is isolated to one side of your head or face, usually in or around one eye. It can feel like a red-hot poker wedged in your eye socket! Or it can feel like your eye or side of your head will explode! The pain can extend down into the neck and shoulders. There can be excessive tearing, redness and swelling in the eye on the affected side. Sometimes a sufferer might also have a runny, stuffy nose on the affected side.
According to the Mayo Clinic, people with cluster headaches appear restless. They may pace back and forth. In contrast to people with migraines, cluster headache sufferers don’t lie down because the pain can increase. Some migraine-like symptoms occur. Nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity and the aura are common with cluster headaches. These symptoms are also usually isolated to one side.
Cluster headaches are so called because they occur in clusters. The time frame can be anywhere from six to 12 weeks daily and there is a pattern. Some people get them during seasonal changes, such as fall going into winter.
Cluster headaches can be anywhere from 15 minutes long to three hours long. They usually happen at the same time within each 24-hour period. The majority of attacks happen at night. The pain usually ends as quickly as it began, rapidly decreasing in intensity. Most people who suffer from cluster headaches are exhausted when the headache ends, but they are pain free.
Treating cluster headaches
- Dr. Oz suggests we stay away from alcohol during a cluster headache cycle. It is a known trigger.
- Dr. Oz also recommends requesting a Triptan prescription from your doctor.
- Try a nasal spray with Capsaicin. This homeopathic remedy can treat sinus issues too.
- I suggest you see your doctor if you just started having any of the symptoms listed above. Headache pain, even intense pain, doesn’t typically indicate any serious underlying condition, but headaches may be associated with brain tumors or weakened blood vessels (aneurysm).
- Always seek emergency care if you have abrupt, severe pain like a lightening bolt. Headache with fever, nausea or vomiting, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, numbness, or trouble speaking are all indications that you should seek professional medical help.
That about does it for this series on headaches. If you missed or want to re-read any of the previous headache posts, just follow these links.
What's on your mind?
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As always, peace and love,