Research and patient advocacy group for cluster headache sufferers discusses alternative treatment options that can help treat one of the most painful human conditions
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–For cluster headache sufferers, “spring forward” can mean a sharp increase in pain and severity potentially from altered hormone levels and sleep cycles caused by the seasonal shift in daylight. Cluster Headache Awareness Day is observed on March 21st, around the time of year when these daylight shifts begin. The patient advocacy group, Clusterbusters, is educating the public about the symptoms and severity of the condition, and generating further recognition around existing treatments that may improve cluster sufferers’ lives.
“When my cluster attacks first began, I knew it was more than just a bad headache. I thought I was going to die; the pain was indescribably horrible. It felt like an ice pick that’s been heated in a forge being continuously hammered into my head,” explains Hal Farmer, who has suffered with cluster headaches for 15 years. “When you are in my shoes, all you are looking for is a pain free day. Even if it is just a 30-minute attack, each minute feels like a day when you are in such excruciating pain.”
Over 1600 cluster headache patients surveyed in a 2021 study published by the American Headache Society, revealed that they are considered one of the most intensely painful human conditions – more painful than childbirth, passing of kidney stones or pancreatitis.
Cluster headaches are typically characterized by a severe stabbing pain on one side of the face, with frequent attacks occurring in groups or “clusters.” Often the rapid onset of intense pain is over one eye, one temple, or forehead; attacks can last anywhere between 15-180 minutes and occur between one to eight times per day. This condition typically starts around age 30 with current studies suggesting that men are diagnosed three times more often than women. However, because the condition is considered rare and requires more research, medical professionals believe cluster headaches could be more prevalent in women than initially thought since misdiagnosis is common.
“Lesser-known than migraines and widely misunderstood, many minimize the extent of pain individuals suffering with cluster headaches endure, which are also characterized as suicide headaches,” says Eileen Brewer, President of Clusterbusters. “In addition to intense pain, cluster headaches are incredibly unpredictable, with cycles lasting for weeks or months. Those suffering who have not found a treatment that works for them should explore newly available treatments, like gammaCore Sapphire and Emgality, to help manage and prevent debilitating attacks.”
gammaCore SapphireTM is an FDA cleared portable, hand-held, non-drug therapy that regulates pain by activating the vagus nerve, the body and brain’s pain superhighway, with gentle electrical stimulation. gammaCore SapphireTM therapy is proven to reduce the number of cluster headache attacks per week, decrease the need for other treatments and can be safely used in conjunction with current cluster headache care plans.
“Despite the unique clinical features, a cluster headache diagnosis may be difficult to get, as the condition is rare and symptoms tend to overlap with other types of headaches leading to misdiagnosis. This is why I encourage individuals who suffer from cluster headaches to do their own research and consult a healthcare professional,” adds Brewer. “We live in an era where new treatments are being developed for this often overlooked disease. Innovations like gammaCore continue to give us hope for a better future for all those with cluster headache.”
To better understand the characteristics of various types of headaches, see: Headache Discussion Guide.
Clusterbusters can be found at http://www.clusterbusters.org/.
Global Communication Works