What Is Aura and How to Relieve Cluster Headaches with Aura

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As if the pain and discomfort of a headache alone weren’t enough, some types of headaches are accompanied by an aura. While this condition is most commonly associated with an aura migraine, auras can occur with cluster headaches too. Headaches can occur with or without an aura, and auras can be very disturbing and unsettling when they strike.

Here is some information about what is an aura and the headaches aura connection as it relates to cluster headaches. This article will also discuss the warning signs of an aura when auras typically occur, and how to find relief for aura migraines and aura cluster headaches.

 

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What Is Aura?

An aura involves having sensory and visual disturbances that may include blind spots and geometric shapes. A person may see flashing lights, twinkling stars, or lines that appear and move across the space in front of the eyes. It is also possible to have a temporary loss in vision due to an aura. In addition to the visual sensations, a person experiencing an aura may also have difficulty speaking, feel numbness in the body, and notice muscle weakness.

Aura Warning Signs

An aura is a warning sign of an oncoming headache, and most auras last between five minutes and one hour. However, auras themselves may come on suddenly with little or no warning. Some people may notice tingling before a visual aura happens or notice a yellowish colored light form before more complex patterns present themselves and begin to move before the eyes.

When Auras Usually Occur

For most people, an aura occurs before the onset of other headache symptoms. An aura is most common within about an hour before head pain and other symptoms, such as nausea and light sensitivity, strike. These types of hallucinations or illusions can occur in both adults and, and nausea and vomiting are common following these sensory experiences.

The Headaches Aura Connection for Cluster Headaches

A cluster headache with aura can feel similar to an aura migraine, with overlapping symptoms and sensations. Research studies have found few clinical differences in people who have cluster headaches with and without aura. However, people who have cluster headaches with aura may experience greater frontal pain, and cluster headache sufferers with aura most commonly experience visual symptoms more than anything else.

Relief for Aura Migraines and Aura Cluster Headaches

A big part of preventing aura migraines and aura cluster headaches is avoiding triggers, such as strong smells, alcohol, and cigarettes. For cluster headache sufferers, acute treatment options include oxygen therapy, injections, nasal sprays, and over-the-counter medications like Vanquish. Meanwhile, preventative treatments include prescriptions of lithium, verapamil, corticosteroids, and methysergide.

To make the aura itself go away, there are no specific treatments, but over-the-counter and prescription medications can make auras more manageable. Meanwhile, reducing daily stress levels and exercising regularly can help auras occur less frequently and be less intense. It may also help to go into a dark room and gently massage the temples, practice deep breathing exercises, and drink water to relieve the symptoms of an aura.

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Cluster Headaches & Menopause: Understanding the Connection

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Cluster headaches are a type of headache most commonly associated with men. In fact, men are about five to six times more likely to have cluster headaches than women. But although this is a rare headache that affects only about one or two people out of every 1,000, it is incredibly painful and can affect women as well.

This is especially true among menopausal women, but these headaches are often misdiagnosed.

This article will discuss the cluster headaches menopause relationship and describe why these headaches happen and what causes them. It will also suggest healthy daily habits to adopt that may minimize menopausal women’s risk of cluster headaches or reduce their severity.

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Causes of Cluster Headaches Women Experience

Cluster headaches are closely associated with the body’s biological clock, which is one reason why women may experience them during menopause. Women between the ages of 20 and 50 can develop cluster headaches, and common triggers are alcohol and smoking tobacco. Women with a family history of cluster headaches are more likely to experience them during menopause or at other periods of life.

Why Cluster Headaches Occur During Menopause

A woman’s body goes through many hormonal changes during menopause, which can often trigger headaches. However, some women actually experience fewer headaches after entering menopause because of the hormone changes. During the perimenopause phase, migraines and cluster headaches can become worse because of this transitional time. This may be due to estrogen withdrawal in the body, which is why some doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy to women who have frequent headaches.

Diagnosing Cluster Headaches in Women

Cluster headaches in women are diagnosed in much of the same way as in men. A physician will typically conduct a neurological exam to assess brain function and nerve reflexes. Imaging tests may be used, such as a CT scan or MRI. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cluster headaches, so menopausal women must seek treatments that decrease the severity of them or that prevent the attacks.

Healthy Habits to Prevent Menopause Cluster Headaches

If hormones are to blame for an increase in headaches, then it is important to balance out those hormones as a cluster headache prevention strategy. It may help to take magnesium supplements or eat magnesium-rich foods during this time, such as avocados, black beans, and bananas. Vitamin B2 and melatonin may also help to regulate the body and prevent these headaches. Living an active lifestyle and exercising outdoors helps many menopausal women fight headaches, as well as doing deep breathing exercises, using soothing essential oils, and adhering to a consistent sleep schedule.

Vanquish, a powerful headache reliever, is not just for common headaches caused by tension or sinus pressure. It is also effective in treating tough and recurrent headaches in menopausal women, such as cluster headaches. With the perfect combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and a low dose of caffeine, Vanquish can help menopausal women be more comfortable and love life regardless of what age or stage of life they’re in.

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Strong Smells That Serve as Cluster Headache Triggers

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Something unique about cluster headaches, compared to other types of headaches, is that certain triggers can bring on a cluster headache suddenly. Some of the most common types of cluster headache triggers are strong smells, which can pose challenges for a person’s cluster headache management strategy. Even smells that are pleasant to the average person can pose serious problems for people who have frequent headaches.

This article will explore the connection between smells and headaches and identify specific smells that should be avoided by cluster headache sufferers. Keeping a headache diary can help individuals who are prone to headaches understand how smells negatively affect them and plan their days accordingly.

Cluster Headache Triggers: Understanding Smells and Headaches

The sense of smell is very powerful in regards to how the body feels and what the mind thinks. Some researchers believe that strong odors can lead to headaches because they can cause blood vessels to swell and dilate. Meanwhile, other research suggests that smells can stimulate parts of the brain and nervous system that are related to where pain is felt in the head.

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Some people are allergic to strong odors, which can cause inflammation and other allergy symptoms in the body. Chemical ingredients are commonly used to create strong smells in household and beauty products, and these chemicals can have adverse reactions in the body and lead to headaches.

These are some of the most common smells that are associated with cluster headache triggers:

  • Perfume
  • Cologne
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Air freshener
  • Scented candles
  • Paint fumes
  • Bleach
  • Gasoline
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover

Runny Nose and Perfume Headache

Runny nose is a common symptom of cluster headaches, and strong smells can also cause a runny nose. This is because odors can cause allergic reactions that have symptoms of runny nose, itchy eyes, and watery eyes. Since cluster headache pain is mostly felt on just one side of the head, one nostril may be more stuffy or runny than the other one.

Smells and Cluster Headache Management

For individuals prone to cluster headaches, it is best to avoid strong smells as much as possible at all times. For good cluster headache management, it is most important to avoid the types of smells listed above during an episode to avoid triggering an attack.

For times when strong smells cannot be avoided and a perfume headache begins to form, it may help to carry organic peppermint or lavender essential oils to counter the negative smell and replace it with something soothing. For public situations with strong smells, it may help to carry a pair of flesh-colored nose plugs or place a scarf over the nose and mouth. Carrying a dosage of Vanquish is also recommended for those unexpected times when strong smells begin to trigger a headache. At home, consider placing an air purifier in the bedroom or circulating stale air with a basic fan.

Tips for Keeping a Headache Diary

Since smells affect everyone differently, it is a good idea to keep a headache diary to keep track of what smells are most problematic. A simple journal with plenty of pages can be used as a headache diary to jot down a few notes in on a daily basis. In addition to trigger smells and headache information, other things to make note of include weather changes, water intake, foods eaten, alcohol consumed, and other bodily aches and pains felt. These little details can help make sense of effective cluster headache management and also help doctors properly diagnose and treat a condition of cluster headaches.

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Jet Lag Symptoms: What Causes a Jet Lag Headache?

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Also known as desynchronosis, jet lag is a temporary condition that results from traveling long distances across different time zones. This is a very common phenomenon among people who travel rarely, occasionally, as well as travelers who fly on a regular basis.

There are many different jet lag symptoms, and these symptoms are often amplified for people who suffer from cluster headaches.

The purpose of this article is to discuss the jet lag headache and how jet lag can be a trigger for cluster headaches. It will describe the symptoms of let lag, how the body is affected by time zone changes, and how sleep patterns can be disrupted and lead to excruciating cluster headaches.

Various Jet Lag Symptoms

Many people who travel across time zones feel fatigue and insomnia as a result of their travel. However, other jet lag symptoms include a jet lag headache, dehydration, nausea, anxiety, and concentration difficulties. It is also possible to experience diarrhea, indigestion, and sleepiness during the day after moving from one time zone to another.

Jet lag occurs because the body’s natural circadian rhythm is disrupted during periods of rapid travel. This makes it more difficult for the body to know when it is time to be awake, asleep, and engage in daily routines like meals and social time.

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Jet Lag as One of Many Cluster Headache Triggers

One of the most painful headaches that exists is the cluster headache, and this type of headache is often triggered by sleep pattern disruptions. Since long flights and travel across time zones often causes changes in a person’s sleep schedule, cluster headache sufferers are more at risk of experiencing an attack.

Cluster headaches typically occur in cycles, but jet lag has been known to trigger a headache outside of these cycles in some people. This can be especially frustrating for long-time cluster headache sufferers who have gotten to know and predict their own cycles and plan ahead for them accordingly.

Common Jet Lag Remedies

Once the feelings of jet lag set in, it can be difficult to make them go away more quickly compared to just letting them run their natural course. However, one of the best jet lag remedies is to get out into the outdoors and in natural sunlight to help the body’s circadian clock transition and adapt to a new place. It is also recommended to drink lots of water to keep the body hydrated and able to flush out toxins while the body adjusts to a time zone that is significantly ahead or behind the familiar one. Meanwhile, some people swear by melatonin supplements to synthetize the hormone that affects the natural sleep-wake cycle.

Jet Lag Tips for Cluster Headache Sufferers

It is a smart idea to bring effective over-the counter jet lag remedies along for air travel trips that span multiple time zones. For example, Vanquish is a powerful headache pain reliever that is available in convenient coated caplets and are easy to bring in a carry-on bag. Before leaving on a trip, it may also help to shift your waking and sleeping hours to adjust to a new time zone gradually.

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Cluster Headaches in Children: Warning Signs and Treatment

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The most common individuals that experience cluster headaches are men between the ages of 20 and 50. But while far less common, cluster headaches can occur in children as well.

Certain risk factors make some children more prone to cluster headaches than others, but the same triggers that affect adults make the condition worse for kids too.

Here is some information about cluster headaches in children, why they occur, cluster headache causes, and cluster headache treatment options for kids. It’s important for parents and caregivers to understand the signs and symptoms of these very painful headaches so they can help their children cope with the pain and seek medical treatment if necessary.

Causes of Headaches in Children

Although there are various types of headaches that affect children, most kids headache symptoms aren’t serious and will go away with treatment. But just like adults, kids can develop tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. Each of these types of headaches has its own unique causes, which are similar to the causes for adults.

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Cluster Headache Causes

Medical research links cluster headaches with the body’s parasympathetic nervous system that controls autonomic functioning. There are also connections between cluster headaches and the hypothalamus that controls natural rhythms in the body. There are also various triggers that aren’t necessarily cluster headache causes, but they make an existing condition flare up and get worse.

Cluster headaches are more common in children age 10 or older rather than very young children, and boys are more likely to have them than girls. They are marked by severe pain on one side of the head, forehead swelling, congested or runny nose, and an eyelid that is red and swollen.

Cluster Headache Triggers to Avoid

Alcohol is a major one of the cluster headache triggers for adults, but this is less relevant for children. However, children that are exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke are more prone to a cluster headache flare-up. Other types of strong smells and chemical fumes, whether from indoor cleaning products or environmental toxins are cluster headache triggers for kids. There is also some evidence that napping in the afternoon can trigger cluster headaches, but children may require naps at this time to get the rest their bodies need.

Kids Headache Prevention Tips

When it comes to cluster headaches, the strategy is two-pronged: prevention and stopping attacks that are in progress. A pediatrician may be able to prescribe preventative medicines to take daily in order to reduce the likelihood of a cluster headache. In general, kids who are prone to cluster headaches should avoid the triggers mentioned above as much as possible. Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of rest are also key parts to a cluster headache prevention strategy. Parents and caregivers should consider keeping a headache journal to document the child’s headaches, including their duration, frequency, severity, and other symptoms.

Cluster Headache Treatment for Kids

In addition to daily preventative medications, a pediatrician may also be able to prescribe abortive medications that target blood vessel receptors to stop a headache. Rescue medications, such as analgesics, can also be used to stop a headache in progress.

However, many over-the-counter headache medications, such as Vanquish, are specially formulated for individuals 12 years of age and older. It is important to contact a child’s doctor before administrating an adult-level dosage of headache medication, even if it is a trusted household remedy. Additionally, parents and caregivers will want to discuss common cluster headache treatment options used for adults with their doctors to determine if these options are safe for the child. This may include sumatriptan injections administered just under the skin and oxygen therapy.

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Understanding the Headache-Memory Connection

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There are a variety of common symptoms associated with cluster headaches, such as pain behind one eye, pain on one side of the head, eye tearing, a swollen eyelid, stuffy or running nose, and sweating. These symptoms are often very severe.

There are additional cluster headache symptoms that are somewhat less common but can have devastating long-term effects. One such example is short-term memory loss, which may be accompanied by confusion and changes in speech or behavior.

The purpose of this article is to explore the connection between cluster headaches and memory loss, including the causes of sudden memory loss and short term memory loss test options that physicians may conduct.

What Causes Memory Loss?

Many people wonder can migraines cause memory loss and what the connection is between cluster headaches and memory loss. The short term memory is the body’s working memory system that stores pieces of information for just a few seconds or minutes. This is the memory system that allows individuals to recall something they just read, someone’s name they were just introduced to, or why they walked into a room to retrieve something. People who experience short term memory loss often misplace items, cannot think of the right words to say, and call people by the wrong names.

Sudden memory loss may be caused by many different medical conditions, such as cluster headaches, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, chronic fatigue, and nutritional deficiencies. Certain prescriptions can also cause short term memory loss as a side effect. Studies have linked stress and excess dietary sugar to memory loss as well.

Headache Memory Loss

Cognitive Motor Neuroscience Group at the University College of London recently conducted a study about headache memory loss and found that people who suffer from cluster headaches are likely to experience more memory issues and mood disturbances. This particular study involved 11 individuals with episodic cluster headaches, 11 with chronic cluster headaches and 11 people who did not experience cluster headaches.

These research findings were similar to previous ones related to this topic, suggesting that medication and psychotherapy may be able to help cluster headache patients with the disabling nature of their condition. Vanquish, for example, is used by cluster headache sufferers to quickly and effectively relieve pain.

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Short Term Memory Loss Test

When a person who experiences cluster headaches seeks medical attention, the physician will likely begin the consultation by conducting a physical exam to check for strength, sensation, and coordination abnormalities. The doctor may also ask short term memory loss test questions to evaluate the patient’s mental functioning. It is very important for patients to be honest about any observed changes in their memory abilities to pursue an effective treatment strategy.

To test one’s ability to remember recent ideas and events at home, there are various short term memory loss tests available online that involve a series or repeated images or words that require quick recall. While these types of tests are no substitute for a medical diagnosis, they can help individuals monitor memory ability over time to determine whether cluster headaches are to blame for unexplained and sudden memory loss.

 

Cluster Headache Diagnosis & The Various Tests Involved

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Having a cluster headache attack is among the worst types of pain that anyone can experience. But since this condition is so different from other types of headaches, obtaining an accurate diagnosis of cluster headaches is very important.

Cluster headaches occur in patterns, so it is essential to understand the location and severity of the pain and to assess the other symptoms that are typically present along with it. Physicians use various approaches to pinpoint cluster headache attack pain and the triggers that cause it.

Here is some information about what’s involved in a cluster headache diagnosis and the types of tests that may be involved to make this determination.

Do I Have Cluster Headaches?

Cluster headaches are more common in men than women and usually begin around the age of 30. The answer to “Do I have cluster headaches?” may be yes if the headaches occur in groups and last one to three hours per attack. They are also commonly triggered by alcohol, cigarettes, altitude changes, heat, foods with nitrates, and exercise.

However, it is crucial to consult an experienced physician about suspected cluster headache attack symptoms to determine if a cluster headache diagnosis is actually correct. The first step in making a diagnosis is to review the pattern of recurrent headaches over a period of time.

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CT Scan or MRI

Imaging tests, such as CT scans and MRIs, are commonly used to help doctors make a cluster headache diagnosis. A CT scan uses multiple X-rays to view a cross-section of the brain. Meanwhile, an MRI uses radio waves and a magnetic field to create comprehensive images of the blood vessels and brain. The brain CT scan or MRI will produce a normal result for a primary cluster headache. Results may be abnormal if there are secondary causes, such as a tumor.

Blood Tests

In addition to imaging tests, blood tests may also be taken to determine is another condition is causing the cluster headache attacks. For example, a blood test may show evidence of hypothyroidism or inflammation in the blood vessels of the head that could be causing headache pain.

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

The purpose of a ESR test is to show where inflammatory activity is present in the body. It is used to rule out certain infections, autoimmune diseases, and cancers that could be causing the head pain. A person with a primary cluster headache diagnosis will typically yield a normal ESR test result.

Pituitary Function Tests

This is another possible diagnostic test for doctors to order when a cluster headache condition is suspected. It will rule out secondary causes that result from a pituitary adenoma.

Polysomnogram

Since cluster headaches are closely associated with sleep, a doctor may also order a polysomnogram, which is a sleep study. This test is used to diagnose sleep disorders, and it does so by recording brain waves, blood oxygen levels, breathing rates, heart rate, and involuntary leg and eye movements. Individuals who have sleep apnea will produce an abnormal result for this test.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

In rarer cases, an EEG may be used to make a diagnosis about an individual’s headache condition. This is most common among people who have seizures as well as severe headaches.

Spinal Tap

A cluster headache diagnosis rarely requires a spinal tap, but it is possible if there is a serious concern about one’s diagnosis. A spinal tap can rule out a diagnosis of meningitis, which is a serious condition that can also cause headaches due to infection around the spinal cord and brain.

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Comparing SUNCT Syndrome and Cluster Headaches

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Frequent headaches can be caused by many factors, and various conditions result in pains that have similar symptoms. For example, SUNCT syndrome is sometimes mistaken for cluster headaches, and vice versa because of the similarities and common features of these two conditions. Frequent headaches can be related to both conditions, but they are not the same. In fact, these two medical conditions are distinctly different, which means that the recommended treatments are quite different as well.

This article provides a comparison between SUNCT and cluster headaches to help headache sufferers and their medical providers determine the cause of pain and the best treatment options.

What is SUNCT Syndrome?

SUNCT is an abbreviation that stands for “short-lasting unilateral neuralgiform headache attacks with conjunctival injection and tearing.” The headaches that result from this condition are one-sided and have autonomic symptoms. They typically involve very brief and moderate headache attacks that last about 15 to 20 seconds. However, these headaches often occur very frequently and up 30 times per hour. They cause pain on one side of the head and also result and redness and tearing of the eye on that side.

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What are Cluster Headaches?

Meanwhile, cluster headaches occur in cyclical patterns and often wake people up in the middle of the night. The pain from these headaches is centered around one side of the head and one eye. Cluster periods often last from a few weeks to several months, with remission periods following the headaches. Other typical symptoms of cluster headaches are restlessness, excessive tearing, a drooping eyelid, and a stuffy or runny nose on the affected side of the head.

Similarities Between SUNCT Syndrome and Cluster Headaches

One of the biggest similarities between these types of frequent headaches is their presence on one side of the head. This pain does not shift from one side to the other, and both conditions are more common among men. Other similarities of these frequent headaches include increased forehead sweating, conjunctival infection, and the possibility of hyperventilation.

Differences Between SUNCT Syndrome and Cluster Headaches

Despite the similarities, there are distinct differences between SUNCT and cluster headaches. The duration, frequency, and intensity of the two types of headaches varies greatly. Cluster headaches last longer, while SUNCT occurs more frequently in a given time period. Cluster headaches are usually more severe than SUNCT headaches. Also, cluster headaches are more commonly experienced at night, unlike SUNCT, which also isn’t triggered by alcohol use in the same way that cluster headaches are.

Why Do I Get Frequent Headaches?

The question of “why do I get frequent headaches?” is a difficult one to answer without an experienced physician’s thorough review of a patient’s symptoms and triggers. SUNCT has been notoriously difficult to treat, but certain medications, such as carbamazepine and lamotrigine, have proven effective in recent studies. Depending on the severity and reoccurrence of the headaches, over-the-counter pain relievers like Vanquish may be recommended for fast-acting relief. Meanwhile, the most common treatments for cluster headaches involve oxygen inhalation through a mask, triptans in injectable form, and preventative treatments like calcium channel blockers. This is why an accurate diagnosis is so important for treating the specific type of frequent headaches being experienced.

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