I May Have Cluster Headaches Too.

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Posted by T. Powell ( on July 10, 1999 at 05:47:26:

Today, for the first time in years, I believe I have a name to put on my headaches (make that "head-attacks"). I think I may be a sufferer of cluster headaches, and not crazy or mutated after all. I am 24 years old, male...I will describe my symptoms and if it sounds like c/h, please give me peace of mind and let me know. The pain usually starts a couple of hours after I wake, which is usually between 2pm and 4pm (I know, I'm a late sleeper). It's hard to describe the first sensation, but it's kind of like a faint metallic "echo" or occasional pulse, behind my right eye. Within ten minutes to forty five minutes it has escalated to intense pain behind my right eye, always the right eye. This happens every day for about two weeks, or four or five (my current bout is on its second month) weeks even, and then goes away for several months. I usually have about two bouts per year, usually in the fall, but occasionally in any other season as well. I don't remember when it started, but I remember suffering as far back as 90 or 91, when I was in high school. The reason I remember that is because that is when I realized for the first time that they were occuring at the EXACT same time every day. In those days, it was 10:36 am, right in the middle of art class. I realized then that this was no ordinary headache, and that no pain reliever seemed to help at all. In the last year, the headaches have gotten a little worse. It was not until the last year or two that I noticed the reddening of my right eye, the tears from the right side only, and the mucous from the right nostril always, when the headache begins to break.
Through the years I have told many people about my headaches. They told me eye strain, sleep deprivation, and hypochondriacism, etc. I can't blame them for that though--if you had never heard of a cluster headache and somebody was describing one to you, it woudn't be too hard to think they were a nut, because the syndrome is so... strange, to say the least. But in the last four years or so, I had somehow decided that the headaches were a combination of sinus infection, and the effect of caffeine-withdrawal on it. I have always thought caffeine was involved, but it definitely effects the headaches. For example, if when I wake up, I have a strong cup of coffee, the headaches will often never even start, or at least they will be postponed. Sometimes if I drink coffee right at the first sign of pain, they can also be avoided. But if I wait too long, and drink it a moment too late, I swear it makes them twice as bad. Years ago I remember reading about the effect of caffeine on the blood vessels in the brain, that it expands or contracts them. Does anybody else know anything about this? I would love to hear any other comments about how caffeine affects your headaches. I had always thought that I had sinus problems, and the caffeine was sometimes helping it, sometimes aggravating it. I thought that until today, when, after an unusually bad one, rushing home barely able to keep my eyes open from the pain, I got on the internet and read all about headaches. And there, at the end of the list, was the description of my headache, as if I myself had written it. I found this site, and a little bit of sanity with it. Thank you for your time.

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