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Do You Have Cluster Headaches?

By Sara Butler

Headaches can be difficult to deal with and they get even more complicated by the fact that there isn't just one type of headache -- there are several. One of those types is something called a cluster headache. This type of headache can cause pain so severe that it's debilitating. If you suffer from cluster headaches, identifying them is the first step to finding a strategy to help you get some relief. Here's what you should know about cluster headaches.

What are Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are characterized by sudden, severe, and recurrent headaches every day or nearly every day for weeks or years. The pain associated with these headaches localizes on one side of the head and may make your eye inflamed and red too. You may even have a runny nose as a result.

This is a rare type of headache, occurring in only about 0.3 percent of the population. But men are twice as likely to suffer from them and people between the ages of 20 and 40 are more likely to get them too.

The Symptoms

The symptoms of cluster headaches include:

  • Severe pain that feels like it's burning, piercing, or poking your head
  • Pain around the eye, temples, and the side of the face
  • Sweating
  • Flushed face
  • Inflammation or redness in one eye
  • Drooping eyelid
  • Tearing of the eye
  • Stuffed up or runny nose
  • Pupil constriction
  • Restlessness
  • Facial swelling

Cluster headaches usually last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes but can last up to three hours. Attacks often happen in groups, or clusters in which you may experience several bouts over the course of one day. They often occur at night and may be more prevalent in the spring or fall.

What Causes It?

The exact cause of these headaches is unknown, but it's thought to be associated with activity in the region of the brain where your hypothalamus is. The hypothalamus is associated with your sleep-wake cycles. The dilation of the blood vessels in the head put pressure on a nerve in the face and causes symptoms.

Some things that may trigger cluster headaches are:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

Family history is also thought to play a part in these headaches.

What You Can Do

If you suffer from headaches and suspect that they may be cluster headaches, then talk to the chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic. They can take a full medical history and help you to find the underlying causes of these headaches, hopefully targeting the cause in treatment to help you find relief.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Arvada, Colo.

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