Cluster headache, also known as histamine headache, is a form of neurovascular headache.
What is Cluster headaches?
Cluster headaches are migraines which occur as a series of episodes - clusters - happening over a week or two. Pain is one-sided, and usually felt in the eye, around the eyelid and behind the nose. It has a burning character and when it ceases mucus drips from the nose.
Cluster headaches mostly occur in men, their pain level is even more intense than that of a non-cluster migraine, and cluster headaches don't appear to respond as well to the new triptan drugs like Imitrex, Maxalt and Relpax as non-cluster migraines do.
What causes cluster headaches?
Some of the causes of cluster headaches may include:
- Some medications (such as nitroglycerin)
- Heavy smoking
- An interruption in your normal sleep pattern
- Problems with the hypothalamus, which controls your body's "biological clock"
Clusters tend to wax and wane; just as the sufferer starts to feel less pain, the pain suddenly increases to its previously intense level.
Treatment for Cluster headaches
- Civamide and capsaicin: When applied to the nasal mucosa of patients with cluster headaches, a clinically significant decrease occurred in the number and severity of cluster headaches. Nasal burning was the most common adverse effect.
- Most studied of the triptans in cluster headache. Subcutaneous injections can be effective, in large part, due to the rapidity of onset. Studies have indicated that intranasal administration is more effective than placebo but not as effective as injections. No evidence suggests that they are effective orally.
- Inhalation of 100% oxygen often relieves cluster headache for some people, particularly for frequent cluster headaches that occur at night.
- Methysergide maleate may be helpful to relieve pain and prevent attacks. It may also have severe side effects.
- Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone may provide short-term relief of cluster headaches in some people. They are not advised for long-term use because of side effects.
The neurologist may keep the sufferer deeply asleep for up to three days. But it works; once the cluster headache cycle is broken, the patient finds relief...until the next cycle. Researchers find that young men and menopausal women are more prone to this type of migraine. A common factor has not been identified.