What are cluster headaches?
Cluster headaches, also known as cluster migraines, get their name because people can suffer from attacks of symptoms over a ‘cluster’ of weeks or even months. In some cases, people may suffer from up to eight headaches a day. The symptoms are often extremely painful but have been known to be alleviated through treatment with medical cannabis.
Cluster headaches are rare, but anyone can get them. They are most common in men and symptoms often start when the person reaches their 30s or 40s. The headaches themselves will often occur without warning, with sudden and severe pain around the eyes, often on just one side of the head. It will often feel like a sharp burning or piercing situation.
Attacks usually last between 15 minutes and three hours and, depending on the circumstances, a person might experience between one to eight attacks within a single day. They will occur every day for longer periods of times, with clusters lasting anywhere from several weeks to a few months at a time. After that, periods of remission will often follow, lasting months or even years before the headaches start again.
Treating cluster headaches
There is no known cure for cluster headaches, but the painful symptoms can be managed with the right treatment. There are certain prescription painkillers and medications that can help to both alleviate the discomfort and prevent future attacks. Doctors also advise avoiding any potential triggers, such as smoking, alcohol, and strong smells.
Medical cannabis has been known to alleviate painful symptoms in a number of different cases. In addition, a study in the Netherlands in 2017 showed that medical cannabis was effective in treating acute cluster headaches for those who had also experienced migraines in childhood.
Because medical cannabis contains cannabinoids that moderate the experience of pain, it can be helpful in alleviating symptoms when used alongside other forms of treatment.
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