Headaches come in many forms and intensities, so the correct diagnosis is the first step towards effective treatment
by Pippa Naude
Ryan Usswald, 42 (from Constantia Kloof in Johannesburg) experienced cluster headaches for seven years. Her says “The best explanation I can give is when you hot your thumb really hard with a hammer, and start jumping up and down and swearing. Cluster headaches are similar in that they make you sweat, cry, scream and rage, because the pain is unbearable. It felt like my face was being ripped off”
You can this, with a quick search of “cluster headache” on Youtube. The people in the videos are writhing, shrieking and even hitting themselves.
Ryan’s attacks would last anything from 15 minutes to a few hours. “I used oxygen, ice packs, hot water bottles, and I even tried epilepsy medication as part of a medical trial… nothing stopped the pain,” he says
The impact on his life was huge. He was often exhausted from lack of sleep. He didn’t want to go out at night or socialise, because he didn’t know when he would be struck by an attack. The onset of a headache while driving can be potentially dangerous, too which restricted his movements. They effect on his family was probably the hardest thing. “My wife and son would be crying helplessly, while watching me during an attack.” Considering all of this, it is no surprise that cluster headaches are also called suicide headaches.
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