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Cluster Headaches: How To Deal With The Worst Headache

Cluster Headaches: How To Deal With The Worst Headache

If you or someone you love suffers from cluster headaches, you probably understand a little about just how debilitating this condition can be and what a huge impact it can have on someone’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are some treatments available that can help to control this pain and help patients and their families lead a full and happy life. Read on to find out more about these excruciating headaches – why they happen and what can be done to resolve the problem.

What is a Cluster Headache?

A cluster headache is the most painful kind of chronic head and earned its name from the clusters or groups of attacks that sufferers can experience during a period of exacerbation.  It is, fortunately, also the least common form of chronic head and only occurs in around 1 out of every 1,000 people.

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    What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Cluster Headache?

    The primary symptom of a cluster headache is excruciating pain:

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    • The pain can be sharp, stabbing or burning
    • It usually centers around one eye or one side of the face, but other parts of the head and neck can also be involved
    • It is common to have cluster periods lasting anywhere from several weeks up to a year; during this time, headaches will come on up to several times a day and can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours.
    • There appears to be a cyclic nature to the pain and it often will occur at the same time of day or the same time of year; one common time for it to occur is at night around 1-2 hours after going to sleep.
    • These cluster periods can be followed by a period of remission which is free of pain and which lasts anywhere from months to years.

    Apart from the pain, there are other possible symptoms that can accompany a cluster headache. These can include tearing, redness and swelling of the eye on the affected side of the body as well as drooping eyelids and nasal congestion. Sweaty, pale skin and restlessness are also common.

    It’s not exactly what you’re suffering from? Then you need to check if you have one of the following headaches instead and learn about how to deal with it:

    Tension Headache: Understanding Of The Most Common Headache

    Sinus Headache: Symptoms, Causes And Natural Reliefs

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    How To Get Rid Of A Headache Without Medicine

    How is a Cluster Headache Different from a Migraine?

    People sometimes mistake cluster headaches from migraines, but there are several ways in which cluster headaches are different:

    • Cluster headaches are a less common form of chronic headache
    • Most cluster headache sufferers don’t get an aura, a sight or smell that signals the onset of a headache and most do not get the nausea and sensitivity to light that comes with a migraine
    • Migraine sufferers find it easier to lie down and rest, while this position seems to make a cluster headache worse.

    What Causes Cluster Headaches?

    The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown. However, doctors do know that during an attack, the trigeminal nerve, which runs along the side of the face and around the eye, becomes activated and extremely sensitive.  Many researchers also believe that the underlying cause for this activation lies in some sort of abnormality in the hypothalamus, the small gland which lies in the middle of the brain: the cycles of pain seem to suggest that the problem is linked to a person’s circadian rhythms (sleep and wake cycles), which is regulated by this gland.

    Because of the cyclic nature of the cluster headaches, many people mistakenly believe that cluster headaches are related to allergies – but several studies have been done on this subject and no association has been found.

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      Who is at Risk for Cluster Headaches?

      While anyone can develop cluster headaches, certain risk factors make it more likely that a person will come down with this condition. These risk factors include:

      • Age. People between the ages of 20 and 50 are most likely to develop cluster headaches, but the majority actually begin before age 30.
      • Gender. Men are more likely than women to develop cluster headaches.
      • Family history. Doctors suspect that there might be a genetic component to this problem, since it can run in families.
      • Lifestyle choices. Use of alcohol and tobacco can increase the risk as well.

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        What can be Done for Cluster Headaches?

        Unfortunately, to date, there is no cure for cluster headaches. The good news?  People today have many more choices than in the past when it comes to day-to-day management of this condition. Treatments can include:

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        • Oral medications, like ergots, corticosteroids (which are used for a variety of inflammatory conditions), and lithium (which was originally used for bipolar disorder but has also proven to be effective at treating these headaches).
        • Triptans, the best-known of which is Imitrex, which can be injected or given through a nasal spray.
        • An injectable form of somatostatin, a hormone found naturally in the brain.
        • A block on the trigeminal nerve to cut off feeling in order to stop the pain.
        • Experiments are underway with nerve stimulation of the occipital nerve and deep brain stimulation, but these are still not readily available.
        • Local anesthetics like Lidocaine can also be incredibly useful.

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          Are there At-Home or Alternative Treatments Available?

          Many patients who suffer from cluster headaches are curious about what alternative treatments are available to help treat this condition.

          Unfortunately, the small number of studies that have been done on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, including chiropractic therapy, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture and acupressure have not found these to be effective for the majority of patients. However, some research has been done with supplements of kudzu, a vine of Asian origin, which seem to be able to ease cluster headache symptoms.

          A basic healthy lifestyle with plenty of sleep and good nutrition and adequate hydration are generally supportive, as is the avoidance of alcohol and tobacco.

          In short, cluster headaches can bring excruciating pain and seriously reduce the quality of life for those who suffer from it. There is no cure for this condition, but the good news is that more treatments are available than in the past for treating this condition and help patients to manage the pain and lead full and normal lives.

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          Brian Wu

          Health Writer, Author

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          Last Updated on October 15, 2019

          How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

          How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

          What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

          To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

          All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

          There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

          With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

          What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

          1. Think Big

            From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

            “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

            There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

            Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

            Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

            Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
            Instead be ambitious.

            2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

              From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

              “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

              This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

              Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

              If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

              Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

              Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

              Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

              3. Learn How to Balance Life

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                From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

                “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

                All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

                If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

                However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

                If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

                In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

                To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

                4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                  From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                  “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                  There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                  Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                  His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                  He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                  Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                  Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                  If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                  5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                    From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                    “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                    This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                    It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                    If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                    Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                    6. Be a Person of Action

                      From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                      “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                      Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                      Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                      When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                      You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                      All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                      Applying this to you?

                      Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                      7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                        From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                        The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                        The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                        People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                        This is key to good leadership.

                        It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                        But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                        What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                        As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                        8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                          From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                          “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                          It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                          Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                          If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                          9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                            From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                            “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                            Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                            It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                            Keep dreaming!

                            10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                              From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                              “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                              Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                              Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                              If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                              However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                              11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                                From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                                “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                                It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                                When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                                Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                                If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                                This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                                12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                  From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                  “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                  You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                  Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                  True success comes from work.

                                  You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                  Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                  13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                    From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                    “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                    In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                    If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                    It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                    Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                    Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                    More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                    Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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