Cluster Headache

Cluster headache is a very disabling condition. Sufferers can have cluster attacks many times per day, each lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours.1 Cluster headache is often called ‘suicide headache’. The pain caused by cluster attacks is one of the most severe pains known to humans.2

Living with cluster headache can be very difficult. When an attack occurs, the intense stabbing pain around one eye, usually accompanied by droopy eyelids with tearing and nasal congestion or runny nose, often results in patients becoming withdrawn and isolating themselves. These repeated attacks leave many sufferers unable to fully participate in life, work, or the activities they enjoy with family and friends.

It is estimated that more than 375,000 people in the U.S. suffer from cluster headaches (approximately 1.2 in 1000 people, similar to the number of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis).3,4 The socioeconomic burden of cluster headache on the individual and society is high due to costs of healthcare and costs of lost work days and decreased work efficacy.

Since many cluster headache sufferers have gone for years without an accurate diagnosis or adequate treatment, it is important to be seen by a headache specialist.

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1 NHS choices, cluster headaches:
2 Holland, P.R. & Goadsby, P.J. Cluster headache, hypothalamus, and orexin. Curr Pain Headache Rep 2009; 13:147-54.
3 Fischera M et al. The incidence and prevalence of cluster headache: a meta-analysis of population-based studies. Cephalalgia. 2008 Jun;28(6):614-8
4 Ford HL, Gerry E, Johnson M et al. A prospective study of the incidence, prevalence and mortality of multiple sclerosis in Leeds. J Neurol 2002;249:260-5
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