What are cluster headaches? Here are the symptoms of one of the most painful conditions

Cluster headaches are said to be one of the most painful conditions. They might feel like a migraine but can actually be much more intense.

Have you ever experienced a headache so bad that it's unbearable? The pain leaves you unable to function properly and even takes away your ability to feel coherent. And when you think it’s finally over, your head starts throbbing all over again. If you experience these symptoms then you might be suffering from cluster headaches, which is one of the most painful illnesses as per PubMed.gov.

A rare and disabling pathology

The cause of this condition is yet to be identified, but it affects one in 1000 people. Cluster headache is classified as a benign disease, whose effects are particularly intense.

It is a neurological condition that resembles a migraine but starts very suddenly and can last between 15 minutes and several hours during a cluster period, as per Mayo Clinic. It can also appear several times on the same day. How do you identify it? By unbearable pain around the orbito-temporal zone (red eyes, swelling of the eyelids, blocked nostrils, and/or runny nose).

According to Professor Peter Goadsby, a neurologist at University College London:

The cluster headache is probably the worst pain that man has ever known (...). Women with AVF will tell you that the attack is even worse than childbirth. So you can imagine these people giving birth, without anaesthesia, once or twice a day, for six, eight or ten weeks, and then taking a break. It's just terrible.

No treatment exists

Unfortunately, there is no permanent treatment for this painful condition, there are however, several ways to relieve the pain and reduce the frequency of these attacks. There are medications that are quite effective at relieving the pain. In addition to this, you can also try your hand at oxygen therapy, which administers oxygen into the breath.

As per Mayo Clinic, men are more prone to this condition than women. In general, the disease appears for the first time between the ages of 20 and 50 years. It is diagnosed by a neurologist, after a series of examinations, to rule out the possibility of this being a migraine.

This article is translated from Gentside FR.

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