PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s new research out about the debilitating impact of certain kinds of headaches that cause people to miss work. The headaches are excruciating and can last for weeks at a time. They happen in clusters.
Doctors say David Flammio gets the worse kind of headaches — more painful and debilitating than a migraine.
“You can feel it as a stabbing pain that’s going through your forehead. When it gets down to the nerve that goes through your jaw, it’s excruciating pain throughout your head,” Flammio said.
Flammio has cluster headaches, a condition that causes sudden and severe pain around the eyes, lasting anywhere between 15 minutes to three hours.
“You want to enjoy things with families, you want to have a productive day at work and you don’t get the satisfaction of that only because you have the cycle that’s limiting in you, not only physically but mentally,” Flammio said.
A new study in the Journal of Neurology says people who get cluster headaches will miss almost twice as many days of work as people who don’t have them.
“It could last three weeks, four weeks, five, six weeks and then it goes away,” Northwell Health Dr. Robert Duarte said. “And in a typical day, it could be one attack or it could be up to eight attacks per day.”
Duarte says knowing what kind of headache you have is key.
“There are different treatments that are used for migraine and the different medications that are used for cluster,” Duarte said. “With cluster, there aren’t as many options though at this point as there are with migraine headaches.”
Flammio says he’s found some relief with acupuncture.
“That seems to be something that would be successful in limiting the outcomes or the outbreaks and then reducing the effects of it,” Flammio said.
Flammio is hoping for new treatments. Currently, there are only two FDA approved drugs for cluster headaches.
Doctors say inhaling oxygen can be helpful for treating the condition.
Cluster headaches are rare and tend to strike younger men and smokers.