Headache pain is a common part of traveling and often develops simply due to lack of sleep or due to changes in altitude and climate. If you’ve recently traveled to Africa, of if you have plans to travel to Africa, it is important to understand the risks associated with specific diseases localized to the region that may cause headache pain. Often, these diseases can be life threatening and headaches should not be dismissed as simply related to fatigue and jet lag.
African sleeping sickness is a unique type of parasitic infection that is acquired when contact is made with flies that are carriers of the diseases. One of the classic symptoms associated with African sleeping sickness is the development of cluster headaches that can cause health complications of a life threatening nature.
Understanding African sleeping sickness, and what cluster headaches feel like, will help in alleviating some of the more severe risks should you become infected with this condition. This understanding may also help to mitigate your risk for confusing the condition with other travel related disorders, such as decompression sickness and decompression sickness treatment.
Cluster headaches, in response to African sleeping sickness, will typically begin as headache pain that is intermittent and not quite painful – leaving many travelers to feel as if the pain is associated with a spike in blood pressure or temporary stress. But, when cluster headaches are developing in response to African sleeping sickness, the pain will return rather quickly until, eventually, there are few time spans in between each bout of intense head pain.
When suffering from headache pain, it is important to seek out medical attention immediately to determine if you have acquired African sleeping sickness. Typically, with blood work, a doctor in the U.S., or in Africa, can diagnose the condition and offer pain relief in the process.
Without proper treatment, the African sleeping sickness will expand from symptoms of cluster headache to complications of confusion, muscle tremors and health debilitations. To avoid these risks, understand how to prevent infection from flies and, when infected, where your best source of medical treatment may be.
Cluster headaches, while traveling are quite common and can lead to great opportunities for destroying a vacation when not prepared to manage them. While cluster headaches can be caused by a variety of health issues, African sleeping sickness is one source of concern that should not be ignored when traveling to Africa or if you have recently returned home from such travels.
Sources: Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches, by Teri Robert