The worst type of pain known to man — that’s how many of those who have experienced a cluster headache describe the ordeal. The pain is so much so that it is also known to some as “suicide headache”.
Cluster headache got its name from the fact that it tends to attack in clusters, each one lasting anywhere from as short as 15 minutes to as long as 3 hours. The point in time where attacks take place is referred to as a “cluster period” that may show up several times a day.
Medical experts say that a cluster period may actually last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Then it’s followed by a remission in which there is no sign of cluster headache for months and sometimes even several years.
You can tell that what you are having is a cluster headache when there’s intense pain on only one side of the head, which can strike several times a day. One of your eyes is affected, too, which can experience a burning or stabbing pain. It’s also very much possible for the affected eye to become bloodshot and watery. Oh, all the signs and symptoms may disappear only to affect the other eye. Cluster headaches rarely affect both eyes.
The nose may also become runny or stuffy, in particular on the same side of the head where you are experiencing pain. You may also become agitated, and sometimes nausea and vomiting may be present.
Nobody really knows the exact cause of a cluster headache, although it is believed to stem from the hypothalamus that is the one associated with your body clock. That’s because cluster headaches tend to attack at the same time each time, usually at night. It’s due to this why cluster headaches are also known as “alarm clock headaches”.
There is no known treatment for cluster headaches, although there are conventional remedies that can help in managing the signs and symptoms. However, they do not come without risks and side effects.
It’s exactly because of this why a lot of people who are regularly bugged by cluster headaches prefer to employ some all-natural ways to deal with attacks. Some of them involve the intake of herbs and supplements, while others entail a few lifestyle changes. Here are some of the things that you may try if you are a cluster headache sufferer:
- Take melatonin supplements daily. This chemical, which is also naturally produced by the brain, can help regulate the body clock as well as deal with cluster headaches. It’s also said that melatonin helps in normalizing hormone levels, proving to be effective in warding off cluster headache attacks.
- Pop capsaicin capsules in your mouth. Numerous studies have shown that capsaicin, the very same compound that gives hot peppers their characteristic hotness, is actually capable of cutting a cluster headache attack by as much as half.
- Supplement with magnesium. A mineral important for healthy and optimally functioning nervous system, taking magnesium supplements is known to help manage cluster headaches. You may also simply include more magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, leafy greens and dark chocolate.
- Embrace healthier sleeping habits. Try your best to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every day. It’s also a good idea for you to avoid taking naps during the day.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol. Refrain from smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol during a cluster period. Otherwise, you may only experience worsening of the associated signs and symptoms.
- Reduce your stress levels. Some people who regularly experience cluster headaches say that stress can actually trigger their recurring nightmares. It’s for this reason why you should strive to keep your stress levels to a minimum. Other than avoiding as much stressors as you can, you should also engage in various stress-busting activities such as doing yoga or meditating.