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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Getting Headaches? You Can't Sleep on It

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None of the participants knew that they had sleep apnea before taking part in this study, according to lead author Ronald Chervin, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan. It is important for sleep apnea to be diagnosed, he said in a press release, because treatment may be able to reduce or eliminate the cluster headaches, in addition to preventing the problems that can result from sleep apnea itself.

Troost agrees, and says that the study results do suggest sleep apnea may be related to cluster headaches, but that other studies are needed to confirm this. "For the complete study to be important, I think you have to take it to the next step and treat people for the sleep disorder and see if it helps the headaches."

The researchers are still unsure why people with sleep apnea get cluster headaches, but think that it may be due to the lack of oxygen in the blood that occurs when breathing stops.

Vital Information:

  • Cluster headaches usually occur at night as a stabbing pain on one side of the head, lasting up to an hour. They may recur frequently.
  • A new study shows that a sleeping disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea may trigger the onset of cluster headaches.
  • Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, but researchers believe that treatment of this disorder could be an important way to reduce cluster headaches.

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