Study: Cluster headaches take toll on workplace productivity

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NEW YORK (CBS) Most of us have experienced a headache at some point in our lives. Now imagine having an intense headache that lasts for weeks at a time, a painful condition called cluster headaches.

David Flammio can tolerate a regular headache, but his are often more excruciating and debilitating. "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.

Like Flammio, one out of every 1,000 Americans experiences cluster headaches, a condition causing severe pain around the eye that lasts 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 Neurology finds people who get cluster headaches miss almost twice as many days of work per year as people who don't have the condition.

"What makes a diagnosis a cluster is that it clusters for a few weeks, so it happens and it could last three weeks, four weeks, five, six weeks, and then it goes away. And in a typical day, it could be one attack or it could be up to eight attacks per day," said Dr. Robert Duarte, a neurologist at Northwell Health on Long Island. He says and 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. With cluster, there aren't as many options though at this point as there are with migraine headaches," he said.

Flammio says he's found some relief with acupuncture."That seems to be something that's been successful in limiting the outcomes or the outbreaks and then reducing the effects of it," he said.

He hopes as new treatments become available, he can get back to a pain-free life, both at home and in the office.