What is a Thunderclap Headache?

By Annette GallagherFebruary 25, 2020No Comments

It strikes without warning.

A headache that builds to a crescendo of crippling intensity then fades away in minutes. It can happen to anyone, regardless of whether you normally experience chronic headaches.

Where does it come from and what does it mean?

Let’s investigate:

What is a Thunderclap Headache?

A thunderclap headache is a type of headache that comes on suddenly and builds to its maximum intensity in the span of just a few minutes. Sometimes, in fact, it can take as little as one minute. Relief generally comes on quickly. In rare cases, though, these headaches might last as long as several days.

Thunderclap Headache Symptoms – What Do They Feel Like?

Sometimes, people mistake the sudden, intense pain for the first moments of a stroke or other major health event in or around the head. Thunderclap headaches are very painful, but they do not cause halos or other migraine-like symptoms. They are usually distinguished from other headaches by their short duration and high intensity.

While these headaches can have some unusual features, they don’t appear for everyone or in every instance. Sufferers have reported things like vision changes, nausea, numbness, general weakness, vomiting, and confusion. These symptoms can linger significantly after the initial pain goes away. Sometimes, they are so severe a sufferer might go to the hospital.

What Causes a Thunderclap Headache?

They are typically a sign of an even more serious systemic problem, such as tears in the arteries of the head or neck. An aneurysm, blocked veins or a leak of fluid in the spine can all cause these unusual headaches. In rare cases, they may be caused by sudden changes in blood pressure levels – though sufferers should still follow up for a full diagnosis.

The headache causes include:

  • Hard physical labor, especially if it includes repetitive movement of heavy objects;
  • Certain medications and other drugs, including some illegal drugs used for recreation;
  • Hitting hot or warm water too quickly when entering a shower, bathtub, spa, or pool.

Treatment at the Houston Headache Institute

Thunderclap headaches should always be taken seriously. As soon as possible after the event, it’s crucial to get a complete brain scan using the latest MRI diagnostic imaging. Houston Headache Institute can provide expert diagnosis and treatment for sufferers of many different types of headaches.

Don’t wait: Contact us to learn more or set an appointment today.