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Journal of
eISSN: 2373-6410

Neurology & Stroke

Conceptual Paper Special Issue Cluster Headache II

Basic Symptoms of Cluster Headaches

John Fletcher

President/Founder, Cluster Headache Foundation Inc., USA

Correspondence: John Fletcher, President/Founder Cluster Headache Foundation Inc., USA,

Received: December 18, 2015 | Published: April 6, 2016

Citation: Fletcher J (2016) Basic Symptoms of Cluster Headaches. J Neurol Stroke 4(5): 00146. DOI: 10.15406/jnsk.2016.04.00146

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Conceptual Paper

The symptoms of cluster headaches appear abruptly and the pain is incredibly severe. They are caused by dilation of the blood vessels surrounding and irritating the branches of the trigeminal nerve.

The pain is located behind, in or around one of the eyes, and may affect the temple, jaw and head and into the neck on that same side as well. The intense stabbing pain will last between 15 minutes to 3 hours and may be accompanied by redness of the eye or tearing, nasal congestion or runny nose, swelling of the eyelid, forehead or facial sweating, severe restlessness and agitation and sensitivity to light.

Anxiety and heart palpitations are not uncommon. Pain and other symptoms occur on the same side of the head or face. These attacks can be numerous and daily averaging 4 to 8 attacks daily is common and sometimes over a dozen or more day and night depending on the patient. They have the ability to wake the patient from a sound sleep to the most severe pain peaking in seconds to minutes with powerful intensity.

REM sleep is also thought to be a trigger for attacks as the patient tries to sleep bringing in another factor of a sleep disorder which is one of many different problems created by cluster headaches. PTSD is a factor for many patients caused by such severe and traumatic attacks that some are never forgotten and flash backs of those devastating attacks can bring PTSD into play. Also clinical depression goes hand in hand with this disease. These are also factors that can be treated by relieving the disease itself or treating them separately... See "An education about cluster headaches" and "Understanding this disorder".


"A Cluster Headache is just pure unadulterated crisp pain. Awesome in it's crystal clarity, pain far beyond the ultimate severity, pain beyond belief, pain beyond the realm of comprehension!

Just incredibly Violent Pain! Pain in its purest, rawest clinical form. A Cluster is devastatingly brutal in its existence and severely persistent in its relentless assault. Penetrating deep into your soul. Searching for your weakness, many times finding it...

A Cluster completely violates your being and conquers the mind, ripping & tearing through the eye, into your mind, body and soul, demanding your total respect and complete undivided attention, awareness and focus...

A Cluster completely obliterates your thoughts and your whole being. The pain consumes all of you overtaking all thought, destroying the ability to fight back... Absorbing you and violently dragging you into a deep dark abyss of pure primal all consuming terrifying pain and severe brutal agony. Avoid hell of existence where only excruciating pain thrives, abounds and exists...

Down there your only defense is the raw, primal instinct of self preservation and pure thought of survival above all else. A lonely dark excruciatingly painful and terrifying hell, always on the edge of the abyss, always on the edge of one last breath. Pushing us to the utmost limits of endurance and extreme stubborn resistance...

Pain so crisp and untainted and overwhelmingly intense there is nothing to compare it to... It has to be felt to be believed and even then is just unbelievable!... And although you can feel that you are most definitely without a doubt going to die, it doesn't kill you!! It leaves you embedded as a prisoner to come back and violate you and torture you every day and night, over and over and over again....

And in a sick, cynical cycle, we somehow survive it over and over and over again. A cruel & terrifying ritual beyond any logic, far beyond the realm of imagination, far beyond conceived reality. It is the literal feeling of death without dying... Sometimes lasting for more than 40 years. In my case 41 years"

Creative Commons Attribution License

©2016 Fletcher. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.