Why Certain Times and Seasons Are Cluster Headache Triggers

While many headaches occur randomly without warning or any distinct pattern, some people experience a headache every night or morning or have episodes of headache same time every day. This is especially true with cluster headaches, which are sometimes referred to as “alarm clock headaches.”

To explain this phenomenon, this article will explain why a headache every evening occurs and why certain seasons can be cluster headache triggers too. With an understanding of these types of headache patterns, cluster headache sufferers can take preventative actions to ensure a restful night’s sleep and more comfortable and productive days.

Common Cluster Headache Triggers

Cluster headaches cannot always be prevented, but triggers can be avoided to make them less likely to occur. Potential cluster headache triggers include smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, smells, bright lights, and foods that are high in nitrates. Other triggers are heat, high altitudes, physical activity, and seasonal changes. Genetics, emotional distress, and a history of head trauma may make individuals more susceptible to cluster headaches as well.

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Causes of Headache Same Time Every Day

Some people experience chronic headaches on a daily basis that occur roughly at the same time each day. This is often in the evening or at night. Some scientific research suggests that cluster headaches are connected to the hypothalamus of the brain, which is the part that regulates a person’s circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. This means that cluster headaches are most likely to occur at night, and more specifically an hour or two after falling asleep.

Cluster headaches are very pattern-based headaches that also tend to strike around the same times each year. People call them “alarm clock headaches” because they often occur like clockwork in a predictable manner.

Dangers of a Headache Every Night

A headache every night can be very dangerous because it disrupts sleep patterns and prevents the body from getting the rest it needs to function well. Cluster headaches will often keep people up for many hours during the night, leaving them to feel exhausted, irritable, and stressed out in the morning. Over time, this reduces the body’s immune system functioning and can lead to increased illnesses and injuries too. Lack of sleep reduces a person’s work productivity, positive relationship interactions, and quality of life overall.

How to Treat Patterns of Headache Every Evening

It is first essential to diagnose the type of headache that a person is suffering from in order to pursue the most effective treatment. Vanquish is indicated for tension headaches.  If you have a cluster headache, sinus headache or any other type of headache you may want to consult a doctor. Avoiding cluster headache triggers is an excellent prevention strategy, as well as avoiding stress, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. However, chronic cluster headache sufferers may also benefit from preventative medications that are prescribed by their doctors.

Learn more about cluster headaches and cluster headache triggers on the Vanquish website, which offers additional suggestions for preventative measures and over-the-counter solutions.

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.

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What Is Aura and How to Relieve Cluster Headaches with Aura

Medically Reviewed By:

Mary K. Polinard, BSN, RN, CNOR

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.

Though for some people headaches can occur without an aura, auras can be very disturbing and unsettling when they strike. Here is some information about what an aura is and how 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 migraines and cluster headaches with associated aura.

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What Is An 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.2

Aura Warning Signs & When Auras Occur

For most people, an aura occurs before the onset of other headache symptoms. An aura is usually a warning sign of an oncoming headache. Most auras begin about twenty minutes before the onset of the headache, but the duration can vary from about five minutes to an hour. Auras themselves may come on suddenly with little or no warning.2,3 Some people may notice tingling before a visual aura happens or notice a yellowish colored light form before further visual disturbances occur. These aura are usually followed by other headache symptoms, including pain, nausea and sensitivity to light. But it is also possible to have an aura then no additional headache symptoms.2

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.1

Relief for Aura Migraines and Aura Cluster Headaches

Treatment for preventing aura is the same as preventing the headaches themselves.

A big part of preventing aura migraines is avoiding triggers, such as strong smells, alcohol, and cigarettes. Cluster headaches aren’t usually associated with triggers, but are likely linked to the hypothalamus and the body’s biological clock.1

To make the aura itself go away, there are no specific treatments, but over-the-counter and prescription medications aimed at preventing and treating the headache can help and make auras more manageable.2 Meanwhile, reducing daily stress levels and exercising regularly can help auras and headaches occur less frequently and be less intense. It may also help to utilize relaxation techniques; go into a dark room and gently massage the temples, practice deep breathing exercises, and drink water to relieve the symptoms of an aura.

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.

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References for What Is Aura and How to Relieve Cluster Headaches with Aura

1. Mayo Clinic. Cluster Headache. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cluster-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20352080.
2. Mayo Clinic. (2019, May 30). Migraine With Aura. Retrieved on August 24, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-with-aura/symptoms-causes/syc-20352072.
3. National Headache Foundation. (2018, August 3). Aura. Retrieved on August 24, 2019 from https://headaches.org/2007/10/25/aura/.

Cluster Headaches & Menopause: Understanding the Connection

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® 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.

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Strong Smells That Serve as Cluster Headache Triggers

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. 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.

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.

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Jet Lag Symptoms: What Causes a Jet Lag Headache?

Medically Reviewed By:

Mary K. Polinard, BSN, RN, CNOR

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.

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 jet 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 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.2,3

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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 the disruption in circadian rhythm caused by 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.1

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 synthesize the hormone that affects the natural sleep-wake cycle.2 Before leaving on a planned trip, it may also be helpful to shift your waking and sleeping hours to adjust to a new time zone gradually.3

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.

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References for Jet Lag Symptoms: What Causes a Jet Lag Headache?

1. Healthline. How To Treat Cluster Headaches Yourself Naturally. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/cluster-headache-natural-treatment#causes.
2. Mayo Clinic. Jet Lag Disorder. Retrieved on Sept 3, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/jet-lag/symptoms-causes/syc-20374027.
3. National Sleep Foundation. Jet Lag & Sleep. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/jet-lag-and-sleep.

Cluster Headaches in Children: Warning Signs and Treatment

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.

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.

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.

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Understanding the Headache-Memory Connection

This entry was posted in Cluster Headaches and tagged on by .

Cluster Headaches

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 runny nose, and sweating. These symptoms are often very severe.1,2

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, and test options that physicians may conduct.

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What Causes Memory Loss?

Many people wonder can headaches cause memory loss and what the possible connection is between their headaches and changes in memory. 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.

Headaches and 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.3 These research findings were significant and showed that people who suffer from cluster headaches have decreased memory, poorer moods, and decreased quality of life.4 The findings reinforced similar studies performed previously, suggesting that medication and psychotherapy may be able to help cluster headache patients with the disabling nature of their condition.3

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.2
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.2

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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.

References for Understanding the Headache-Memory Connection

1. Healthline. How To Treat Cluster Headaches Yourself Naturally. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/cluster-headache-natural-treatment#causes.
2. Mayo Clinic. Cluster Headache. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cluster-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20352080.
3. National Headache Foundation. Decreased Mood and Cognitive Function Linked With Cluster Headache. Retrieved on September 5, 2019 from https://headaches.org/2015/05/04/decreased-mood-and-cognitive-function-linked-with-cluster-headache/.
4. Torkamani, M., Ernst, L., Cheung, L. S., Lambru, G., Matharu, M., & Jahanshahi, M. (2015). The neuropsychology of cluster headache: cognition, mood, disability, and quality of life of patients with chronic and episodic cluster headache. Headache, 55(2), 287–300. Retrieved on September 5, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354253/.

Cluster Headache Diagnosis & The Various Tests Involved

This entry was posted in Cluster Headaches and tagged on by .

Having a cluster headache attack is among the worst types of pain that anyone can experience. And 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 patterns associated with it.3

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 or patterns and last one to three hours per attack. They are not commonly associated with triggers like migraines are. However there are some risk factors that may make you more likely to have cluster headache attacks, such as consuming alcohol or the use of cardiac medications like nitroglycerine.2

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.1

Neurologic Physical Exam

An experienced physician will do a physical exam on you to assess your neurological status. This will involve looking at things like memory/brain function, as well as assessing your reflexes, senses and nerve function.

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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.2 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 rule out other conditions. For example, a standard blood test may show evidence of hypothyroidism, diabetes, infection, or inflammation that could be causing headache pain.1

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

In rare 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.1

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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.

References for Cluster Headache Diagnosis & The Various Tests Involved

1. Cleveland Clinic. Diagnosing Headache: Test Details. Retrieved on September 5, 2019 from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/9655-diagnosing-headache/test-details.
2. Healthline. How To Treat Cluster Headaches Yourself Naturally. Retrieved on September 3, 2019 from https://www.healthline.com/health/cluster-headache-natural-treatment#causes.
3. Mayo Clinic. Cluster Headache. Retrieved on August 22, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cluster-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20352080