interfere with migraine medications or even make them toxic. So be sure to check with your doctor before taking any kind of herbal supplement. Of course, you should also eat regular meals, get plenty of sleep, and avoid foods that trigger migraines for you. Drugs like ergotamine and triptans (such as Imitrex) can help stop a migraine once it starts.
Why you hurt
Cluster headaches are much less common than tension headaches or migraines. Some researchers suspect that people get cluster headaches when they are not getting enough oxygen for some reason.
Fluctuating neurotransmitter levels may play a role. Some think the nerve pathways become more sensitive. Others believe that inflammation plays a role.
Other suspected triggers include alcohol, cold or hot wind, high altitude, stress, and smoking. Cluster headaches occur most often in spring or fall. Most sufferers are male.
- knife-like pain limited to one side of the head, often in or around one eye, that usually lasts no more than an hour
- headaches in clusters, either several times in one day or for several days in a row, with recurrences at the same time of day, usually for six to eight weeks at a time
- nighttime onset, perhaps painful enough to wake you
- tearing in the eye on the affected side, or redness or swelling around the eye, or a droopy eyelid
- a stuffy or runny nose along with the headache
What to do
To prevent cluster headaches from occurring, doctors usually prescribe migraine medications. Once you have pain, inhaling oxygen can bring relief within a few minutes.
Some people benefit from certain types of triptan medicines, such as injectable Imitrex (sumatriptan). Feverfew may ease the pain of cluster headaches, but can have side effects like mouth ulcers.
When should you see a doctor about a headache?
You should see a doctor if:
- your headaches get stronger and more frequent
- your headaches last more than 24 hours or recur two or three times per week
- you also have numbness, blurred vision, memory loss, or dizziness
- you get a headache after hitting your head
- exercise brings on the headache
- your headaches interfere with your daily life
- your headache is accompanied by a fever over 100 degrees, you find it painful to bend your head forward, or light hurts your eyes
- the headache is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or drowsiness
- you have severe pain around one eye with blurred vision