However, scientists have found that the pain is mainly caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the head.
When these blood vessels dilate, they apply pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which is the largest nerve in the cranium. It is because of this pressure that people with cluster headaches experience severe pain.
They also found that the hypothalamus, or the part of the brain responsible for releasing hormones, regulating body temperature, and the sleep cycle, was active during cluster headache attacks. This means that the hypothalamus might have something to do with why cluster headaches occur.
Studies done on cluster headaches found that there might be a genetic component to this condition. Other factors that increased the risk of cluster headaches include not getting enough sleep, and smoking.
Cluster headache vs migraine pain: How are they different?
Both migraines and cluster headaches are usually unilateral. This means they occur on one side of the head during the period of attack. However pain may shift to the other side during a different attack.
In other ways, cluster headaches and migraines are different. These include:
Cluster headache vs migraine pain: Accompanying symptoms
Migraine headaches are commonly associated with light and sound sensitivity at the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, cluster headaches are most commonly associated with:
- Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
- Eye redness
- Nasal discharge
- Nasal congestion
These only during the pain attack, and on the same side of the headache.
Cluster headache vs migraine pain: The type of pain is different
Cluster pain is usually described as a sharp, poking type of pain. Some even compared it to being stabbed with a hot poker in the eye!
Migraine pain is different in that it is a throbbing sort of pain that can linger for a while.
Cluster headache vs migraine pain: Cluster headaches tend to go away after a period of time
Despite being extremely painful types of headaches, cluster headaches, as the name implies, appear in clusters.