Cluster Headache Awareness Day

​​​Nurse Specialist Kay Chatterton and Consultant Neurologist Dr Brendan Davies

A Staffordshire mother-of-two today described the debilitating effect of cluster headaches and thanked staff at the specialist UHNM regional headache clinic in helping her combat the condition ahead of world Cluster Headache Awareness Day on 21st March 2019.

Nurse specialists at UHNM run a specific cluster headache rapid access clinic as part of the specialist services available for the condition, which is sometimes nicknamed "suicide headache" or "alarm clock headache" due to its severity and impact on people's lives and that it tends to recur at the same time each day for sufferers. Female sufferers have even described each attack as being more painful than childbirth. It affects 1-2 per 1,000 of the UK population.

Mrs Jodie Lowe, 35, from Biddulph, said: "I have suffered with cluster headaches for around six years now but it took more than 12 months for a diagnosis from my GP. I can experience up to five attacks per day lasting up to two hours each. Prior to these I used to suffer with migraines but then it developed into cluster headaches. The pain is excruciating and I would much rather go through childbirth than have this debilitating condition."

"It really affects my day-to-day life from taking my children to school or simply just playing with them, I have to rely on my husband and parents for help if an attack does occur. Without using oxygen or the injectable drugs to help my condition, I can become distressed and agitated with the pain, people think I am drunk or on drugs or mistake my symptoms as having a stroke. I can't thank Dr Davies enough for the help and support he has given me, things are a lot better than they were but a lot more research is needed on the condition as currently there is no treatment that can stop the headaches."

Consultant Neurologist Dr Brendan Davies said: "Cluster headache affects men more than women in contrast to migraine, and it can occur at any age even in children but typically starts between ages of 20 to 40 years. The symptoms include severe pain with often a red eye with involuntary tearing of the eye, a runny or blocked nostril and a droopy eyelid. This means that people and GPs can often mistake cluster headache for a sinus problem, or allergic reactions. The pain involved is agonising and is probably one of the most painful conditions known to humans. As part of our Specialist headache services here at UHNM we have been part of UK trials in this disorder and have a specific cluster headache rapid access clinic run by our headache nurse specialist to help manage this dreadful headache disorder."