There are many different forms of migraine, and cluster headaches, although not a migraine, are often likened to migraines. So what are they?
Cluster headaches manifest themselves as intense pain in or around one of your eyes. Migraines on the other hand usually take the form of a head pain which affects half of the head.
Cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns (or cluster periods) and these clusters of headaches can last between weeks and months. After the cluster of headaches, no further headaches take place and this is known as the remission period. This remission can last for months and sometimes years. However, it’s not uncommon for cluster headaches to occur at the same sort of time each year; each spring or autumn for example.
Cluster headaches usually take place each day during a cluster period and can occur several times a day – with a single headache lasting between fifteen minutes and three hours.
These attacks tend to take place at the same time each day, with most attacks happening at night; usually an hour or two after going to bed. The pain can be so bad that it wakes sufferers from their sleep, and it usually ends as quickly as it began. When the attack is finished, most sufferers are pain-free but exhausted.
Unlike migraines, cluster headaches aren’t usually associated with triggers such as foods or stress. The exact cause of cluster headaches isn’t yet known, but cluster headache patterns suggest that abnormalities in the body’s biological clock play a role.
As for who cluster headaches affect, cluster headaches are more common in men, and most people who suffer from these headaches tend to develop them in their 30s or 40s (although they can occur at any age). Having a parent or sibling who has cluster headaches could also increase the likelihood of developing cluster headaches.