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Scuba diving and cluster headaches
Fcharp posted a topic in Migraine General BoardI suffer from cluster headache episodes. They happen every 10 years or so and last up to 9 months with frequent attacks. Home-based oxygen therapy works for me (fortunately) to abort attacks. But what worked for me even better is scuba diving at relatively deep depths. I discovered this by accident a few years ago as I was preparing for a 120 feet dive on regular air. I had geared up and was preparing to dive in when an acute attack started. I was in month 3 of the episode and my morale had been eroded by the frequency and violence of the attacks (at that time, my physician had refused to supply me with home-based oxygen treatment - she was afraid I would start a fire!). We had been planning the dive for days and I thought to myself: "Screw that... I'm going in.". While the first few minutes were made quite difficult by the pain, I started feeling better at 80 feet and the attack vanished when we reached 120 feet. At first, I though this was a coincidence. But as we repeated the 120+ feet dives over the next 4 days, something unexpected happened: the episode was aborted and I was pain free for years afterwards. After talking to my neurologist about this event, he confirmed that there were more reports of busting an episode with diving at these depths. He also explained that he prescribed hyperbaric chamber treatment at simulated depths of 60 feet for cluster headache sufferers. He also explained that at the depths we went to, the oxygen concentration is almost 5 times higher than at surface level (approx. pO2 1.0 ATA at 125 feet vs 0.21 ATA at surface). This was the equivalent of a mammoth O2 treatment. I don't suggest here that anybody go out there and try this. Diving at these depths require special training and certification. But if you are a diver who is qualified and who suffers from cluster headaches, consider it. But make sure that you are comfortable at those depths (i.e. not anxious) and that your buddies are aware of your condition and what you are attempting to do. Frederic