What Is a Thunderclap Headache?

A thunderclap headache is a type of headache that comes suddenly and usually severe. Just like its name suggests, the headache comes quickly without any warning and can last for a minute or so and then fades away over several hours. Some of the thunderclap headaches can also last for more than a week. Some medical experts consider a thunderclap headache as sign of a serious medical emergency. Immediate medical attention is usually recommended.

Causes of thunderclap

A thunderclap headache can suddenly occur without any obvious reason . In some cases, it can be a result of some potentially life threatening condition. One of them is a bleeding occurring between the brain and the membranes that cover it. A thunderclap headache can also be caused by a bulge in the blood vessel with the risk of rupturing.

A tear in the artery that supplies the blood into the brain may also cause a thunderclap headache. A cyst that may be blocking cerebrospinal fluid flow may also cause such headaches as well as bleeding in the pituitary gland. Certain infections such as those leading to meningitis or encephalitis may also cause thunderclap headaches.

 Symptoms of thunderclap

Thunderclap headaches come so sudden and so severely. The pain may strike without any warning with some considering the pain as the worst that they have ever experienced. The pain usually peaks for about a minute or so and then gradually fades after several hours. Some people may have such headaches lingering for several days.

How thunderclap is diagnosed?

Since thunderclap headaches are associated with other serious conditions, diagnosis usually involves determining what might be causing it. One of the tests that doctors usually use is taking a CT scan of the head to search for the underlying cause. A spinal tap may also be made to get a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for further testing. An MRI as well as an angiography may also be taken to further help doctors diagnose what may be the cause of the thunderclap headaches.

How to treat thunderclap?

With or without treatment, thunderclap headaches will usually disappear within a few days or weeks. Treatment for such headaches is usually targeted towards treating any underlying problem that may be causing them.