Mother Jodie Lowe revealed the excruciating pain caused by an illness nicknamed the “suicide headache”.
It comes as medical professionals started a clinical study that identified a genetic link for cluster headaches.
Also known as the ‘alarm clock headache’ due to its severity, the condition is believed to affect one to two people in every 1,000 of the UK population.
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And female sufferers say that every attack is more painful than childbirth.
The University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust headache team worked on a clinical trial with patients in Staffordshire.
Jodie from Biddulph can have up to five seizures a day – each of which lasts up to two hours.
The 35-year-old said, “I’ve had cluster headaches for about eight years now, but it has taken more than 12 months for my GP to get a diagnosis. I can experience up to five seizures a day, each of which lasts up to two hours.
“Before that I had migraines but then it developed into cluster headache. The pain is excruciating and I would much rather survive childbirth than have this debilitating condition.”
Jodie admits the condition interferes with her daily life – but pays tribute to UHNM consultant neurologist Dr. Brendan Davies for his and the team’s efforts to put the spotlight on the subject.
She said, “It really affects my everyday life, taking my kids to school or just playing with them. I have to rely on my husband and parents if there is an attack.
“Without using oxygen or the injectable drugs to relieve my condition, I can get disturbed and upset with the pain, people think I’m drunk or on drugs, or mistake my symptoms for a stroke.
“I cannot thank Dr. Davies enough for the help and support he has given me. Things are much better than they were, but much more research is needed on this condition as there is currently no treatment that can that can stop the headache. “
Dr. Davies is one of several European contributors to the study, which was published in The Annals of Neurology. He says he’s encouraged that research has identified potential candidate genes that might help explain why some people develop cluster headaches.
Dr. Davies said, “Cluster headache is a rare but excruciating headache condition that affects young men and women.
“In contrast to migraines, men are more affected than women and can occur at any age, even in children, but typically begins between the ages of 20 and 40.
“Symptoms include severe pain with often red eyes with involuntary tears, a runny or blocked nostril, and a drooping eyelid. This means that people and general practitioners can often mistake cluster headache for a sinus problem or allergic reaction. “
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Dr. Davies says the condition is possibly “one of the most painful conditions known to man.”
He added: “As part of our specialist headache services here at UHNM we have participated in UK studies on this condition and have a dedicated cluster headache fast access clinic run by our headache nurse to help treat this terrible headache condition.
“I would like to thank all of the cluster headache patients in Staffordshire and beyond who helped with their participation in this important preliminary genetic research as we try to unravel the important but often asked question of why certain people are so unusual but are massively effective state.
“It is incredibly important to research new potentially effective treatments for cluster headache and what potential factors will determine who is likely to develop the condition.”
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