Do you get “cluster” headaches? Here’s what it says about your health

People who suffer from “cluster headaches” may be three times more likely to develop heart disease or mental disorders, according to a study.

These excruciating headaches last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours and typically occur several days a week.

They affect an estimated one in 1,000 people and can be a sign of widening or swelling of blood vessels. People with this condition are more prone to mental and neurological disorders, as well as heart disease.

There is evidence that cluster headaches are linked to abnormalities in the region of the brain responsible for producing the “happiness hormone” serotonin, the “sleep hormone” melatonin, and cortisol, the “stress hormone.”

Of more than 3,200 Swedes who get cluster headaches, 92 percent were more prone to neuromusculoskeletal disorders, characterized by persistent pain and mobility problems.

Of more than 3,200 Swedes who get cluster headaches, 92 percent were more prone to neuromusculoskeletal disorders, characterized by persistent pain and mobility problems.

The study was conducted by Swedish scientists who recruited 3,240 people aged 16 to 64 with cluster headaches.

They compared this group to 16,200 people who were similar in age, gender and other factors. The majority of subjects were men, who are more prone to cluster headaches.

92 percent of people with cluster headaches had an additional illness. A majority – 52 percent – had co-occurring nervous system disorders, compared to 15 percent of those without cluster headache.

Disorders with the second highest proportion of cluster headache sufferers involved the musculoskeletal system, causing long-lasting pain and mobility problems, versus 24 percent in those without headaches.

Blood, immune, endocrine, and metabolic disorders, as well as pregnancy-related disorders, were very rare in both groups.

dr Caroline Ran, the author of the study from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, said: “Our results show that not only do people with cluster headache have an increased risk of other diseases, but those with at least one additional disease miss four times as many days work due to illness and disability than those who only have cluster headaches.’

The results were published in the journal Neurology.

Less than 80 percent of people who don’t have cluster headaches had two or more additional disorders that primarily affect the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, causing persistent pain and limited mobility.

The headaches were severe enough to cause twice as many absenteeism.

Those with cluster headaches missed an average of 63 days of work compared to 34 days for those without cluster headaches.

“It is very important to improve our understanding of the other disorders that affect people with cluster headache and how they affect their ability to work,” added Dr. Ran added.

“This information can help us make decisions about treatments, prevention and prognosis.”

A notable caveat, however, was the lack of personal information about individuals such as smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and body mass index.

The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but scientists have identified smoking and alcohol use as possible sources.

A family history of cluster headaches can also make the condition worse.

Episodes typically last between five and 15 minutes, but can extend to as long as 180 minutes if left untreated. Attack episodes are much longer.

An attack cycle typically lasts six to 12 weeks with remissions lasting up to a year. Many people experience one to two periods of attacks per year.

The most effective treatments for acute attacks are oxygen therapy and sumatriptan injections.

The high blood pressure drug verapamil is helpful for long-term prevention. An injectable drug has also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Cluster headaches are different from migraines, which cause debilitating headaches, nausea, fainting, vomiting, and even paralysis.

Migraine sufferers experience an average of 13 attacks per year, usually in clusters or episodes lasting a few days.

They are the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide.

Like cluster headaches, migraines are strongly associated with depression and absenteeism from work.

What is a cluster headache?

Cluster headaches can be excruciatingly painful.

They are often recurrent, and periods of consistent episodes lasting six to 12 weeks are common.

Episodes can last five to 15 minutes, but can last up to 180 minutes if left untreated.

The pain sets in quickly and is mainly concentrated behind the eyes.

They can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking
  • Jump to a great height
  • Bright light
  • exercise or exertion
  • Heat, either weather or a bath
  • Foods that contain nitrates, such as bacon or meat for lunch
  • cocaine use Do you get “cluster” headaches? Here’s what it says about your health

Bradford Betz

Bradford Betz is a WSTPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Bradford Betz joined WSTPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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