If you suffer from cluster headaches, it's essential to see a specialist to identify the cause. Although everyone experiences headaches occasionally, cluster headaches are much more severe. The good news is that treatment for cluster headaches is available. The first step is to know your triggers. You may have cluster headaches if you suffer from frequent, severe headaches that come simultaneously.
Trigeminal autonomic reflex
The trigeminal autonomic reflex (TACR) is believed to be the leading cause of acute attacks of cluster headaches. This reflex is triggered by parasympathetic nerve fibres in the trigeminovascular system. The reflex causes perivascular vasodilation, which in turn can cause pain. There is some evidence that chronic activation of this reflex may contribute to the development of the condition.
There are several different types of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias. The most common is cluster headache and paroxysmal hemicrania. However, there are a few differences between these types of headaches.
One of the most common causes of cluster headaches is sleep deprivation. It's also been linked to changes in the seasons. Cluster headaches begin during sleep, often at least 90 minutes into the sleep cycle. Scientists believe cluster headaches may be linked to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which correlates with dreams. Though the exact role of REM sleep is not fully understood, it is believed to be involved in memory consolidation, learning, and regulation of synapses.
REM density measures how many times a person's eyes move during the REM phase of sleep. Studies have shown that low REM density is a sign of sleep deprivation. One study of 40 cluster headache patients found that their REM density was significantly lower than that of matched controls. Despite this, there was no difference in the number of REM sleep disorders or the sleep cycle duration among cluster headache patients and controls.
Treatment options for cluster headaches vary, depending on severity and cause. Oxygen inhalation, triptans, and cortisone are effective acute treatments. Topiramate and verapamil are available as alternative drugs. Local anaesthetics may sometimes be applied to the greater occipital nerve. Neuromodulation procedures may also be used to control the number and severity of attacks.
The goal of cluster headache treatment is to prevent or reduce the frequency of future attacks. Currently, several pharmacological treatments are available, including non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation and sphenopalatine ganglion blockade. There is also a transitional therapy available if the first-choice treatment fails.
While the exact causes of cluster headaches aren't known, they are typically painful. The pain strikes one side of the head, and sometimes it may spread to other areas, including the forehead, temple, nose, and gums. If left untreated, cluster headaches can last weeks or months and may interfere with your daily life. The best way to deal with them is to learn how to recognize the triggers that cause them.
Cluster headaches typically occur in cyclical patterns. For some people, the cycle repeats every day. Others experience cluster headaches every three or four months. For many people, a cluster headache may be triggered by a particular food, event, or activity. Symptoms are similar to migraines, but the triggers that cause cluster headaches to varying.
The cluster headache duration is often variable, ranging from a few minutes to several weeks. The headache is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and irritability. Some patients experience nocturnal attacks, while others have daytime attacks. Patients may feel pressure or tingling throughout the body. In addition, about 14% of patients experience a side shift.
The diagnostic criteria for cluster headaches are based on ICHD-3 criteria. However, many patients do not meet the criteria because of the wide range of presenting symptoms. In addition, the severity of the pain should be considered, which is crucial to an accurate diagnosis. Ultimately, the goal is to determine a treatment plan that can effectively relieve the pain and prevent future attacks.