If you suffer from cluster headaches, then you may be desperate to find a way to cure your headache pain. These headaches come on quickly and happen regularly for a period of time, but regular painkillers often do nothing to make you feel better.
Some people use oxygen therapy to manage cluster headache pain. How does this work and will it cure your cluster headache problems?
How Does Oxygen Affect Cluster Headache Pain?
Oxygen therapy is used as an acute treatment for cluster headaches. This means that you only take extra oxygen at the start of an attack rather than as a preventative measure.
Unlike other acute treatments like regular painkillers which often take too long to work before cluster headaches take hold, oxygen therapy can have immediate pain management effects. It's not clear exactly how this works, but it may be related to blood flow in the brain.
When you have cluster headaches, the blood flow in your brain increases. It is thought that this increase in flow causes headache pain. Inhaling pure oxygen typically reduces this blood flow. This reduction may relieve some pain and make your headaches more manageable.
Will Oxygen Therapy Work on Your Headaches?
Oxygen therapy works well for some cluster headache sufferers. They notice that their pain subsides quite quickly and significantly immediately after inhaling pure oxygen. However, this treatment isn't guaranteed to work for everyone who has cluster headaches. Some people don't notice any improvement with this therapy at all. So, it may or may not make things better for you. However, oxygen therapy is generally safe, as long as you use the oxygen correctly, so your GP may agree to prescribe the therapy for you to try. You have nothing to lose by giving this a go if you can't cope with your cluster headache pain.
It's worth asking your GP if this an option you can consider. If they agree, and the therapy does work, then your pain will at least reduce. Your GP can also talk you to about other ways to manage your headaches.
Bear in mind that oxygen therapy can relieve cluster headache pain; however, it doesn't cure cluster headaches. You're still likely to continue to get these grouped headaches in the future. So, your GP may also recommend that you try preventative medicines like calcium channel blockers. These medications reduce cluster headache incidents for some people, so they may also be worth a try.