Cluster headache, also known as the “suicide headache”, is perhaps the most excruciatingly severe head pain known to mankind. Unlike Migraine headache, Cluster headaches primarily affect men rather than women. Historically, the term “Cluster headache” arose because the attacks cluster – occurring each day from weeks to months at a time, only to spontaneously terminate. The cycle may disappear for years, or return months later, often each year around the same season.
Coming in clusters, attacks happen 1-8 times per day, often awakening a patient from sleep each night. Attacks occur behind one eye as if a spike is being driven directly into the eye. Additional features of Cluster headache include eyelid droop (ptosis), nasal congestion, and tearing. During an attack, people are known to pace, yell – even scream continuously, repeatedly slamming their head with their fists or against a wall. Although each attack is brief (30 min to 90min), the pain is so exquisite that sufferers live in constant fear of the next attack, and some will commit suicide as a result.
Cluster headaches are relatively rare, and as a result patients are frequently misdiagnosed. Further, doctors often fail to appreciate both the severity and the desperation of those who suffer with Cluster headache, and they may be slow to react effectively. Proper diagnosis is imperative. First, there are some life-threatening conditions that mimic Clusters, including Brain Aneurysms. Second, there are safe and effective methods of Cluster headache treatment available. People often can be misdiagnosed and spend years of their lives in exquisite pain before finally getting the correct diagnosis and the potential for relief.
As a board certified neurologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of headache, Dr. Ament has helped accurately diagnose and treat patients with Cluster headaches. He appreciates the uniqueness of the condition, and he is sensitive to the excruciating nature of Cluster headache pain. Dr. Ament’s unique experience and skills increase the chances for a positive outcome with cluster headache treatment . If you, or someone close to you, suffer from Cluster headaches, you deserve the opportunity to be heard, and to be treated appropriately. Call today for an appointment.