Different from migraines, cluster headaches mainly affect men. Know the signs, common triggers, and treatments.
If you’ve ever had one, you know what I’m talking about.
This is no ordinary afternoon headache. This is the “Oh my God, get me an MRI this has got to be a brain tumor” headache. This is the “I am going to tear my eye out because this hurts so bad” headache.
While migraines have a range of triggers and hit across gender lines, often striking women during times of hormone fluctuation, cluster headache sufferers tend to be men.
- Affect one area of the head or face
- Come on suddenly, and often leave just as suddenly
- Occur in cyclical “clustered” patterns,
- Are sometimes called “alarm clock headaches,” because the onset can occur while sleeping and be severe enough to wake the sufferer.
- Can have eye or sinus pain and swelling as a side effect, but generally just on one side of the face.
So besides a morphine drip or waiting it out in agony, what can we do?
7 ways to beat cluster headaches:
Don’t smoke. Smokers have a much higher incidence of cluster headaches.
Get upright. While migraine sufferers often feel some relief from lying down, it often worsens cluster headache pain
Go for the hot wings. Spicy foods, specifically anything with capsaicin containing hot peppers can help block the pain, as well as help prevent the recurrence of cluster headaches. Capsaicin can also be taken as a supplement.
Take a sniff. While migraines are often triggered or worsened by scents, certain aromatherapy oils can be helpful in relieving cluster headache pain. Lavender essential oil is a great choice, and if there are sinus symptoms as well, try eucalyptus oil.
Pick white over red. As with migraines, red wine can be a trigger for cluster headaches.
Keep it cool. If cluster headaches have been a problem for you, steer clear of exercising for long periods in the heat. Also, a covered ice pack may offer some additional relief from the pain and swelling of the cluster headache.
Relax! Stress is a major trigger for cluster headaches. Finding healthy ways to de-stress can help prevent future flare-ups or shorten the cluster cycle.
Read more on Health, Psych & Addiction.
Image credit: Healing and Eating/Flickr