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Migraine vs Cluster headaches?

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I am new so sorry if I'm asking a question that may has been asked many, many times.  I was diagnosed with migraines many years ago and always assumed that my "headaches" are migraines, but I'm wondering if maybe they are CH instead?  The pain wakes me at night, pain on one side (temple, eye, forehead, back of neck) laying down makes them worse, they will subside once I'm up and around for an hour or so (but, low grade headache continues and usually doesn't dissipate for several days), my eyes do tear the last couple of years but not just with headache ( I think).  These type of headaches have increased over the last couple of years, and seem to come for a couple of months and then go away for a couple of months?  I also have Meniere's symptoms (tinnitus, hearing loss, ear fullness, dizziness).  

I have seen from reading previous posts that there are some preventives that I could be taking for migraines and was hoping I could get some help. Triptans make my tinnitus symptoms much worse, and I have done every diet out there to find my triggers and can't find anything in my clean diet - tried CQ10, always take high doses of Mg, and can seem to only get relief from high doses of ibuprofen.  Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated!

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HI eldoradoboosters,

Welcome to the group.

Interesting set of symptoms there. I'm not a doctor, but just someone who has daily chronic headaches, migraines and chronic cluster headaches. I can easily have 300+ headaches a year, in a good year. 

My nutshell analogy of the different types of headaches goes like this: If you equate the pain of a headache to the Moon, then a migraine would be the Earth and a cluster headache the Sun. That said, I sometimes struggle telling a headache from a migraine until it's past or I figure out what meds were effective. Paracetamol works well on headaches, but I need a triptan for migraines (usually).

I have tinnitus, and yes, triptans (Zomiltriptan, Eletriptan) and other things make it worse (cannabis, psychedelics, etc.). So that's normal.

Sinus headaches can look a lot like migraines, and can respond to Ibuprofen. If you think about it, a sinus headache is triggered by swollen sinuses and Ibuprofen reduces swelling. Might be worth looking into, and might explain why you get them at night, when you're lying down. I have a friend with bad sinus headaches, and if she simply bends over and stands back up, that's enough to trigger a migraine. 

The pain normally associated with a cluster headache is phenomenal.  A migraine will often drive people to a dark, quiet room where they don't have to move much, smell anything or be hurt by noise. Cluster Headaches tend to force people to pace, to literally pound their head on the wall, cry, moan, go running, etc.. They are very much opposite responses. Clusters are also associated with droopy eye and a runny eye and nose, but only on the side of the face with the cluster.

I recently found out I am allergic to cats, so gave my cat to my son a few weeks ago. Since then, my headaches and migraines dropped by 75% (down from 12 a week to 3 a week). Like you, I had ruled out food triggers and thus thought I had covered all the basis. But apparently not. Sinus issues may explain a lot of things for you, and it might be from an allergy you're unaware of. If I open my bedroom window, which overlooks my neighbour's garden, I'll be sneezing all day and have a runny nose because there is something in her garden that my body really, really doesn't like. 

Hope that helps.


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Thank you so much for all the info you provided.  I must have only migraines since I do not want to pace or bang my head when they come on.  We have a cat, so interesting (even though my allergy test a few years ago didn’t show any allergy with cats) - did your cat make you sneeze or eyes run?   Could be mine are just caused by environmental (grasses, trees, etc).  Taking triptans made my tinnitus so bad I wanted to bang my head, though, so I might have to stick with ibuprofen which is so bad for the stomach and liver :(.   

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Re cat allergy.

I've always been allergic to Penicillin and most antibiotics, with some pretty severe reactions. And, I occasionally have a bit of hay fever, especially if I move to a new area as it seems to take a year before my body adjusts. The last few years, however, my hay fever has gotten more pronounced, and I noticed that when I moved into my current home in Dec 2018, that opening my bedroom window would cause me to sneeze all day. 

That, I thought, was the extent of my allergies. 

Let's jump back in time to the start of 2016, when a couple friends and I moved into a new house and my cat started spending more time in my bedroom than anywhere else in the house. Now, there were a lot of other things going on in my life at the time, e.g. my best friend and house mate being diagnosed with a terminal disease that killed her in Nov 2018. It was during this time that my headaches and migraines got really bad. We are talking 20+ a month plus 2-3 cluster headaches a month. But, I put it all down to the stress of what was happening in my life.

I expected my migraines to settle down this year, as I'm now living on my own and 90% of my stress is gone. Life is pretty chilled out at the moment, so stress shouldn't be triggering migraines.

But, my headaches and migraines, if anything, got worse. 

In July of this year I had a bad reaction to something. I'm pretty sure it was something I ate, but can't say for sure. A few weeks later, same thing, but it came on faster and was much worse. So much so I drove to the hospital where I got adrenaline and a high dose of antihistamine. A few weeks later, it happened again, and again, much faster and stronger. I barely made it to the hospital before I was on the brink of passing out. Strong indications were that I had a nut allergy of some sort. 

That prompted a trip to the allergy clinic and the standard pokes-on-the-arm allergy test, and that's when I found out I was allergic to cats (and peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, house dust, trees, shrubs & grass). I was never allergic to these nuts or peanuts before. In fact, they were a regular part of my diet. 

So, no idea what happened that I suddenly became allergic to all this, and I don't know if I became allergic to cats just this year, along with the nuts, or if the cat allergy had been around for a couple years and was the route cause of 3 years of extreme headaches and migraines. But since the cat moved out, I'm in a lot less pain.

And no, cats don't make me sneeze or give me a runny nose, and I don't itch or break out in hives around them. Just get headaches and migraines. 

Btw, I'm in my 50s. 


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