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How Is Cluster Headache Different from other Headaches?

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How Is Cluster Headache Different from other Headaches?

Cluster headache is one of painful headaches that happen in clusters. A person may experience cluster headache attacks with a periodic cycle followed by cyclic headache-free periods. Headache is one of the main reasons you may require to look for Neurosurgeon. Similarly, the symptoms of cluster headaches are different from other headaches, however, they sometimes may correlate with each other and can often confuse people with migraine.

  • The frequency of cluster headaches may range from one headache to several headaches or from one day to several days of the week.
  • The pain in the cluster headaches may vary from person to person or from range to range.
  • Cluster headaches are common among adults and middle-aged people but they can occur at any age.
  • Cluster headaches equally affect both men and women. There is a special treatment that occurs differently for both men and women. They are equally prone to have the impact of the disease and get similar side effects.
  • However, there are some studies being discovered in the past, nearly in 1990s, which can show that cluster headache in men occurs with twice the range than in women.

What are the most probable causes of cluster headaches?

Cluster headaches are one of the most confusing headaches that may give you the symptoms like other diseases. It is the primary cause of dilation and widening of blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and face. Dilation provides pressure to the special nerves called trigeminal nerves, which is one of the reasons that the face and brain get the sensations and their transmissions. It is unknown why this dilation takes place.

According to science and research, it is believed that the hypothalamus, which is a small area of the brain responsible for the body temperature management, and management of blood pressure, sleep, and other releases of hormones may cause cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are also the cause of the sudden release of chemicals called histamine, which is responsible for fighting allergies and regulating mood.

How do the symptoms of cluster headaches differ from other types of headaches?

Cluster headache is one of the primary reasons that you may require a visit to the Best Neurosurgeon. Moreover, the symptoms of cluster headache occur all of sudden. A small percentage of people may suffer because of aura-like disturbances, flashes of light, and other sounds that may appear before the start of headaches.

  1. In certain cases, the headaches may start a few hours after you fall asleep and you may feel the pain while you wake up. Such pain can also affect you before you wake up in the morning. 
  2. In the case of cluster headaches, the headache becomes severe after 10-15 minutes when the headache actually starts. The headache may last till several hours and may become intense lasting between 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  3. Cluster headaches can take place on one side of the head, and can also switch to the other side in certain cases, generally located behind or around the eyes.
  4. Cluster headache occurs with constant, burning, and piercing pain. People with this pain often feel like something hot has been put in their eyes.
  5. The pain may spread to the forehead, nose, neck, shoulders, teeth, etc.

Other signs or symptoms of cluster headache include:

  • a droopy eyelid
  • a constricted pupil
  • eye redness
  • sensitivity to light
  • swelling under or around eyes, either one or both
  • a runny or stuffy nose that may feel like sinus
  • facial redness
  • nausea
  • restlessness

Cluster Headache and Migraine

There is a similarity between cluster headache and migraine. Both are headaches, can occur unilateral or one-sided, and can both affect the foreheads of the patient. Despite these similarities, there can be other major points that can help you distinguish both types of headaches. While migraine attacks the head, cluster headache feels differently and may become intense slowly and gradually or may act differently.

  • People with migraine may experience nausea and sensitivity to light and sounds along with vomiting while cluster headaches appear along with watery eyes and runny nose.
  • Some people may experience migraine because of certain sensations or aura sensitivity including visual disturbances such as flashing of lights, zigzag lines, a temporary loss of vision, etc.
  • In contrast, cluster headaches are sudden, occur on one side of the head, often accompanied by a runny or stuffy nose, and tearing of eyes on the same side of headache. This is why cluster headaches are often confused with sinus headaches.

How are the symptoms of cluster headaches being treated?

The treatment of cluster headache generally requires prevention of headache using over-the-counter medications for pain relief. You can consider looking for the Best Neurosurgeon in Kolkata, who may suggest you have the right amount of dosage and the right treatment for your disease.

Pain Medication

Pain medication helps to relieve headache once it has begun. The treatment for the headache may involve the therapies like:

  • Oxygen: breathing oxygen or inhaling 100% pure oxygen can help to relieve pain and other related symptoms.
  • Triptan medications: You can also use nasal sprays that may include the products like sumatriptan (Imitrex), or other triptan medications. These medications are helpful in treating constricted blood vessels. This ultimately eases the headaches.
  • DHE: It is one of the injected medicines that may help you relieve pain within 5-10 minutes after use. But, you may require to take this injection with the prescription of your neurosurgeon or after consulting the same with your doctor.
  • Capsaicin cream: It is one of the effective creams that help to relieve pain when directly applied to the painful area.


There is a surgical procedure that may help you permanently relieve the headache because of the disability of the trigeminal nerve. The surgery is the permanent solution to the relief of pain for certain people, but in other cases, the side effects may persist after the treatments. The side effects may affect the face creating numbness in the facial nerves, as a result.

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Bhanu Garg

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