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What is a Cluster Headache : Coping with Cluster Headache Pain

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Clusters headaches are said to be the worst headaches a person can suffer. People who have these headaches will tell you that the pain is much worse than a migraine. Researchers report that people who have suffered cluster headaches and other intense pain, like childbirth or migraines, say that these headaches are definitely the worst pain a person could ever experience.

These horrendous headaches are not new, early documentation shows that they were known about at least one hundred years ago. But it was not until 1956 that Sir Charles Symonds first accurately documented this condition. From there until the 1980s it was given various names until cluster headache was finally agreed on and is now the common name of this affliction.

These headaches often have a particular pattern to their pain cycle. The episodes may come as several pain attacks per day that occur over a period that can last a month or even two. After this incredibly devastating period a sufferer will likely then find himself or herself pain free for up to a year. Unfortunately others suffer from chronic cluster headaches and they do not get a pain free time.
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Some studies are tying migraines and cluster headaches together to try to look for cures. Only infrequently does a person suffer from both. Researchers believe there are some common reasons for both these headaches but overall what works for one will not work for the other. These headaches are six times more likely to occur in men then in women. They usually begin in a personís twenties or as late as their fifties but cases have been reported where the onset of suffering begins as early as ten or as late as eighty. Oddly women sufferers usually begin later, more commonly as they approach their fifties. Though sometimes women who are younger and have this condition will find that they get a reprieve form the pain during pregnancy. Studies also show that sometimes using birth control pills will be the trigger that begins cluster headaches.

Unlike migraines, which often have warning signs, cluster headaches do not. They come on fast, and can within a few or up to fifteen minutes leave the headache sufferer in unbearable, agonizing pain. In up to twenty percent of suffers the pain is characterized as stabbing in the periorbital region of the head. Periorbital means around the eyes. The pain can also be around the temples, the necks or ears. Frequently the pain stays in the same area during the entire attack, but in about fifteen percent of patientís successive sessions it will go to the opposite side. A high proportion of cluster headache sufferers are more comfortable during an attack if they do not lie down but instead remain sitting up or keep active. These preferences have not been studied enough to give a clinical interpretation because patients report enough differences in comfort and discomfort during episodes that there is no conclusive proof that one or the other position is better.

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