Cluster Headaches: Signs and Symptoms

Click on Photo to go to the Cleveland Clinic Website for more information.

Click on Photo to go to the Cleveland Clinic Website for more information.

Cluster headaches are recurring attacks of excruciating, stabbing pain on one side your head, usually behind the eye. Men experience cluster headaches eight times more often than women do. These headaches occur nearly every day or several times a day for weeks or months, and then disappear for several months or even years. Attacks may last from 15 minutes to three hours, and often occur during the night.

There are two kinds of cluster headaches — episodic and chronic. In episodic cluster headaches, there are long, pain-free remissions. In chronic cluster headaches, there are no long remissions. If during the past year or longer, you experience periods of only a week or less of relief between headache attacks, you may be diagnosed with chronic cluster headaches. About 10 percent of cluster headache sufferers have the chronic condition.

Other symptoms usually occur on the side of the head where burning or penetrating pain is felt in or around an eye. Occasionally the pain extends to your forehead, nose, cheek or upper jaw. Other symptoms include:

• Red or teary eyes
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Facial swelling

Cluster headaches usually don’t run in families and don’t appear to be hereditary.

Tension Headaches: Signs and Symptoms


Tension headache is the word used to describe chronic headaches that cause a tight, band-like pain. This is the most common type of headache, afflicting 88 percent in women and 68 percent in men. Tension headaches account for nearly half of all headaches, according to a study done in 2007 in Cephalagia (head pain). Researchers have estimated that more people suffer from tension headache than a migraine. A tension headache is a mild to moderate steady pain, tightness or pressure around the head and neck. These headaches may be provoked by the stress and frustrations of everyday life, eyestrain, or poor posture. The causes include muscle contractions or changes in brain chemicals. In 2006 and 2007, several studies presented the theory that tension headaches may be caused by myofascial trigger points in the shoulders and neck and poor head posture.

Some researchers suggest that tension headaches may be related to fibromyalgia, a condition that is also characterized by myofascial pain. When tension headaches occur on a daily or almost daily basis, they are called chronic daily headaches. Sometimes other symptoms appear with these headaches like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. Tension and migraine headaches can and often do occur together, and many doctors believe that the two types of headaches are caused by the same.

Wash That Stuff Right Out of Your Sinuses


A home-made isotonic saline nasal wash: (for dry sinuses)

• 1 pint (2 cups) warm water
• 1 teaspoon salt (pickling salt or kosher salt)
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
(Pickling salt or kosher salt is preferred by some because of possible allergies to iodine and these other salts are pure.)


A home-made hypertonic saline nasal wash: (for stuffy nose)

• 1 pint (2 cups) warm water
• 2 teaspoons salt (pickling salt or kosher salt)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
(Baking soda added to the mixture keeps it from burning the nasal passages.)

I have also used sea salt in these recipes, but without the baking soda.  The sea salt will actually purify and remove toxins in the body.  It is my opinion that the sea salt works better to relieve the pressure of sinus caused by the build-up of fluid in the sinus cavities.  This build-up of fluid is what causes the pressure and eventual painful sinus headache.

Sinus Headache: Signs and Symptoms

Click on Photo to go to the Mayo Clinic Website for more information.

Click on Photo to go to the Mayo Clinic Website for more information.


Sinusitis occurs when there is an inflammation of one or more of the paranasal sinuses, the hollow cavities within the cheek bones found around the eyes and behind the nose. The primary function of the sinuses is to warm, moisten and filter the air in the nasal cavity.

Sinusitis is very common in the winter and can last for months or years if inadequately treated. It can affect the nose, eyes, or middle ear. Symptoms of sinusitis include some or all of the following:

• Thick yellow-green nasal discharge
• Bad-tasting post-nasal drip
• Cough
• Head congestion and an accompanying headache
• Feeling of facial swelling
• Toothache
• Constant tiredness
• Occasional fever

Sinusitis can be divided into acute, subacute, chronic and recurrent. The classifications are based on length of symptoms, or the specific sinus involved, or both. The classification is as follows:

Acute sinusitis: symptoms for less than 4 weeks consisting of some or all of the following: persistent symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection, purulent rhinorrhea, postnasal drainage, anosmia, nasal congestion, facial pain, headache, fever, cough, and purulent discharge.

Subacute sinusitis: symptoms from 4-8 weeks.
Chronic sinusitis: symptoms for eight weeks or longer of varying severity consisting of the same symptoms as seen in acute sinusitis. In chronic sinusitis there should be abnormal findings on CT or MRI. Some patients with chronic sinusitis might present with vague or insidious symptoms.
Recurrent sinusitis: three or more episodes of acute sinusitis per year. Patients with recurrent sinusitis might be infected by different organisms at different times.

Although colds are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, it is more likely that people with other allergic diseases such as allergies or asthma, will develop sinusitis. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the sinuses and nasal mucous linings. This inflammation prevents the sinus cavities from clearing out bacteria, and increases your chances of developing sinusitis. The incidence of sinusitis in asthma patients ranges from 40%-75% as well.

If you test positive for allergic disease, your allergist/immunologist should be able to suggest the appropriate treatments to control your symptoms, and thus reducing the risk of developing an infection. People with sinus problems should avoid environmental irritants such as tobacco smoke and strong chemical odors, which may increase symptoms.

Another cause of sinusitis is structural problems in the nose – such as narrow drainage passages, tumors or polyps, or a deviated nasal septum (the bone and cartilage between the left and right sides of the nose) – may be another cause of sinusitis. Surgery is sometimes needed to correct these problems, but only after all other medical treatments have failed.


Sinusitis generally requires a combination of therapies. Allergist/immunologists should withhold from prescribing antibiotics for 10-14 days, unless severe symptoms develop such as fever, facial pain or tenderness, or swelling around the eye. An allergist/immunologist may also prescribe a medication to reduce blockage or to control allergies to help keep the sinus passages open. This medicine may be a decongestant, a mucus-thinning medicine or a cortisone nasal spray. Antihistamines, cromolyn and topical steroid nasal sprays help control allergic inflammation. Other treatments that can be helpful to control and reduce symptoms of sinusitis include, breathing in hot, moist air, applying hot packs, and washing the nasal cavities with salt water.