Why One Side of the Head Is Primarily AffectedMedical professionals believe that the hypothalamus, which is small part in the center of the brain, plays a role in causing cluster headaches. This is the part of the brain that controls automatic functions, such as body temperature, digestion regulation, and many other important functions. Although the exact cause of cluster headaches is still unknown, one widely accepted theory is that the hypothalamus can malfunction and cause the carotid arteries to enlarge and press on certain nerves. There is a bundle of trigeminal nerves on each side of the head, and it is possible that just one of those bundles is affected at a time. The pain that is created on one side of the head is typically centered behind the eye or outwards a bit further towards the ear. On that same side, an individual who is suffering from a cluster headache will also likely experience a red eye, increased tear flow, a reduced pupil size, and a drooping eyelid in that one eye.
The Phenomenon of Switching SidesSomething interesting about cluster headaches is that they do have the ability to switch from one side of the head to the other. Some individuals experience cluster headaches on the same side of the head every time they occur. However, it is possible for this type of headache to switch to the other side in subsequent episodes. Also, it is possible for a person to experience chronic cluster headaches for a while and then switch to episodic cluster headaches at a later time. A designation of “episodic” means that the headaches occur cycles lasting one week to one year and are separated by pain-free periods of at least a month.
How Pain Radiates Through the BodyAlthough one side of the head is predominantly affected during a cluster headache, it is also possible for the pain to radiate into other parts of the body as well. The most common body parts that a cluster headache will spread to are the nose, teeth, neck, and shoulders on the same side as the head pain. This type of bodily pain is typically described as a burning or piercing sensation.
Recognizing and Treating Cluster Headache PainThe symptoms of cluster headaches are unique and can typically be diagnosed easily by an experienced physician. Other treatment options to discuss with a doctor for severe symptoms include triptan medications, capsaicin topical creams, and preventative measures to control blood pressure and nerve inflammation.
VANQUISH® is indicated for tension headaches. If you have a cluster headache, sinus headache, migraine headache or any other type of headache you may want to consult a doctor.