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Pathology Atlas

Jan 24

Alternative treatments that reduce the frequency of cluster headaches


Both migraines and cluster headaches are associated with debilitating pain localized in the head and face area. Similar on the surface, but fundamentally different, there are a few ways to distinguish between the two. In terms of medical treatments, in most of the cases, the solutions proposed by medical staff are temporary, and sadly, in most of the cases, ineffective. Below we have some ways in which you can identify a cluster headache as well as some alternative treatments that may reduce the intensity and frequency of your episodes.

Cluster headache or migraine?

Cluster headaches are a condition in which the pain experienced by the sufferer is debilitating, in some extreme cases, leading to depression, anxiety or even suicide. The pain appears in cluster episodes, that seem to last between several minutes to several hours. The cluster period can last up to several weeks, after which the patient experiences a remission interval, of an approximately a year, interval in which none of the symptoms is experienced. The attacks are thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls sleep cycles. Because of this reason, the episodes appear during the same period of the day. Usually, these episodes occur during the night, after a few hours of sleep. Laying down during an attack seems to only worsen the condition.

  • The pain is caused by a dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve, so it is almost always unilateral. The pain usually starts from behind an eye and radiates to the surrounding area.
  • The pain is described as a burning, piercing sensation.
  • Due to its cyclic specific is also called “alarm clock headache”.

What are some al