Cluster headache is an extremely painful and uncommon form of headache. It typically occurs in clusters (recur over days, weeks, or months), with one attack followed by a period of remission. Some individuals may experience multiple attacks per day, while others may experience no more than one or two per week or month. During an attack, the discomfort is intense and concentrated in one eye. Additionally, the pain may extend to the temples or forehead. Other possible symptoms include vertigo, vomiting, and profuse perspiration. (1)
Men experience cluster migraines more frequently than women. Typically, they begin between the ages of 20 and 40. It is caused by alterations in the head’s blood vessels. In addition to medications such as triptans, lifestyle modifications such as avoiding alcohol and cigarettes are part of the treatment. Cluster headaches have no known cause, but they may be associated with variations in the levels of certain brain chemicals.
Pathology and physiology
Cluster headaches are an uncommon and distinctive form of headache. They are characterised by severe, stabbing pain on one side of the head, along with red eyes, a runny nose, and profuse perspiration. Current research suggests that cluster migraines may be caused by alterations in the blood vessels of the brain, but the exact cause is unknown. These alterations may result in the sudden release of chemicals that cause cluster headache pain and other symptoms. (2)
Cluster headache pathophysiology is not completely understood. Current hypotheses implicate mechanisms such as vascular dilation, stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, and circadian effects. Histamine release, an increase in mast cells, genetic factors, and the activation of the autonomic nervous system may also play a role.