Those who have a severe headache during the upcoming solstice aren't alone, according to doctors who say the natural phenomenon causes pain for millions.
Researchers say human biological rhythms are closely tied to the Earth's rotation and the most extreme gravitational offsets can cause headaches for many.
Clinical trials are underway at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology to develop a new treatment that uses Botox.
"Botox is a neurotoxin that stops the flow of impulses along the nerves. In theory, the connection between the two nerves in the bundle is reduced or eliminated," says senior consultant and researcher Erling Tronvik.
If this sounds like an extreme treatment, it's because cluster headaches are even more severe than migraines, according to Brian M. Grosberg, M.D., director, Montefiore Headache Center, and associate professor of Clinical Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
"It is one of the most painful conditions a person can experience," says Grosberg.
According to researchers, cluster headaches are characterized by severe pain in the eye area and accompanying symptoms including watery eyes, swelling and nasal congestion.
They last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours and can continue for weeks after the solstice.
Men are four times more likely to be affected than women.
Cluster headaches are not unique to the summer solstice, and patients also report them at the start of winter.
Dr. Grosberg recommends sufferers avoid alcohol, drink lots of water and consider taking the hormone melatonin as preventative measures. Should a cluster headache arrive, he recommends breathing pure oxygen for 10 to 15 minutes.
Anyone prone to cluster headaches should consult a physician or specialist, he says.
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