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Sunglasses and no coffee: what can help with cluster headaches


Violent pain attacks: Sunglasses can help against cluster headache

An estimated 70,000 people in Germany are affected by cluster headache. Men three times more often than women. With common means you can often do nothing against the bad pain attacks. However, sufferers can try to avoid things that may trigger the seizures. For example, it can help some patients to wear sunglasses or avoid coffee.

Cluster headache occurs frequently in spring

Seizure-like, one-sided intense drilling or burning pain in the area of ​​the temple and eye: cluster headache not only occurs frequently in autumn but also in spring. According to the Professional Association of German Neurologists (BVDN), an estimated 70,000 people in Germany are affected. Common methods that help with tension headaches or migraines are often ineffective in cluster headaches. Sufferers should try to figure out the factors that trigger the pain attacks and then avoid them. It can help, for example, to protect yourself from bright light with sunglasses or to avoid alcohol and coffee.

Severe to unbearable pain

As the BVDN explains on the portal “Neurologists and Psychiatrists on the Net”, the pain that is always one-sided behind the eye, forehead or temple is boring to stabbing, its intensity is strong to unbearable.

A periodically recurring occurrence in so-called clusters is typical of the disease. This can be followed by symptom-free intervals for months.

The headache sets in increasingly at certain times of the day and can occur more frequently in the spring or autumn seasons.

Patients report inner restlessness, cannot lie still and either run around or move the upper body rhythmically. They are also aggressive and irritable during the attacks.

Typical side effects include a runny nose, red, watery eyes and occasional reddening of the skin on the face.

If the symptoms are not treated, they last between 15 and 180 minutes, at the same time nausea, sensitivity to light and noise can occur.

Inhaling pure oxygen helps many patients

According to the experts, up to 70 percent of those affected help to inhale pure oxygen through a breathing mask that covers the mouth and nose if the measure is carried out within the first 15 minutes of an attack.

If this therapy does not work, the doctor will recommend certain medications. There are various active ingredients that have proven effective against the symptoms. Those affected should therefore seek specialist medical advice.

"Relaxation procedures, stress management techniques, acupuncture, neural therapy, biofeedback, massages and other alternative therapy methods that help with tension headache or migraines are ineffective in cluster headache," writes the BVDN.

Avoid trigger factors if possible

In order to counter the disease, one should try to find out the factors that trigger the pain attacks and then avoid them.

This can include environmental stimuli or certain foods. Ideally, you should keep a diary to determine what the triggers are.

Since alcohol is a known trigger for cluster headaches, it is better to avoid it. Just like on smoking.

Coffee, nuts and glutamate can also trigger the pain attacks. In addition, some people react to glare. Sunglasses protect against the bright light. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Understanding Cluster Headaches w. Stewart J. Tepper, MD (August 2020).