Headache - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of cluster headaches?

Cluster headaches are headaches that come in groups (clusters) separated by pain-free periods of months or years. A patient may experience a headache on a daily basis for weeks or months and then be pain-free for years. This type of headache affects men more frequently. They often begin in adolescence but can extend into middle age.

  • During the period in which the cluster headaches occur, pain typically occurs once or twice daily, but some patients may experience pain more than twice daily.
  • Each episode of pain lasts from 30 to 90 minutes.
  • Attacks tend to occur at about the same time every day and often awaken the patient at night from a sound sleep.
  • The pain typically is excruciating and located around or behind one eye.
  • Some patients describe the pain as feeling like a hot poker in the eye. The affected eye may become red, inflamed, and watery.
  • The nose on the affected side may become congested and runny.

Unlike patients with migraine headaches, patients with cluster headaches tend to be restless. They often pace the floor, bang their heads against a wall, and patients can be driven to desperate measures including contemplating suicide.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: corina, 25-34 Female Published: October 16

In 2003 I was told I had gotten hepatitis B. I had some flu-like symptoms. I went to my doctor, who did blood work, and then informed me that I had the Hepatitis B Virus. He didn't need to report it nor was I given any medications for it. After 11 years I am now told that I don't have it anymore. But I have the symptoms. I still feel scared that I still can get sick from it again, and I understand that I may have gotten it from my trip to Guam, helping out the victim of a typhoon. Now 12 years later I have some of the same feeling of pain on my right side and worry that my liver is not happy with me.

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Comment from: MJThompson, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: November 03

I've been ill with pneumonia for about a week and surprisingly, haven't felt short of breath yet. The pain started on my right side and spread across my chest. It hurt more when I inhaled. It hurt inside my body, not in my chest wall. After two days it became so painful as to be worrisome. Then I started a constant forceful dry cough, my fever went over 101 F and stayed there for days. My throat became very painful from coughing. Appetite was uneven. I became nauseated after too much activity. I became extremely hoarse after two days of coughing. There is very little nasal congestion or running. I am constantly weak. The doctor prescribed Zithromax, benzonatate for cough, and a fever reducer. Prior to taking benzonatate, I didn't have a sensation of chest congestion and my cough was dry. After starting benzonatate my cough became productive. Fever started to drop 48 hours after starting Zithromax. Six days after the pain started, I am not so weak and my chest is not painful, only sore. I still have lots of coughing and rattling, and I haven't got my voice back yet.

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