As its name suggests, thunderclap headache comes like a clap of thunder. There is a severe pain in head that peaks within a minute, and this intense headache may last up to five minutes. Sometimes this headache may last up to a day or a week.
It is a rare headache that sometimes proves to be life-threatening. It is estimated that out of one-tenth of million, only five people suffers from this problem. However, if you find any of the symptoms of thunderclap headache, it should not be ignored.
It is one of the most intense types of headaches in which there may be bleeding inside the brain.
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Symptoms of Thunderclap Headache
It doesn’t take time to build up and attain its severe intensity in a fraction of time. This headache may prove dangerous for one’s life as it might affect the brain’s blood vessel, which results in internal bleeding.
This headache should raise concern for severe medical attention like subarachnoid hemorrhage. Several causes lead to this headache, but the symptoms are more or less similar. If any of the symptoms are visible, you must consult your doctor immediately. Following are significant symptoms of thunderclap headache-
- Severe pain anywhere in your head.
- Sudden headache with high intensity like you never felt before.
- Headache includes in the lower back or neck.
These symptoms are also present in a typical headache. But it constitutes a headache like a clap which attains its peak in a minute. Therefore, you can identify the actual symptoms the moment headaches occur.
Causes Behind Thunderclap Headache
Thunderclap headache should not be treated as a common headache. The frequent headaches may be a symptom of subarachnoid hemorrhage, internal bleeding in the brain.
This internal bleeding in the brain is due to the rupture of the aneurysm. Therefore, if the headache occurs once or twice, you should consult the doctor immediately.
Some of the significant causes of thunderclap headache are-
- The blood clot is responsible for low blood flow and creates immense heart pressure while pumping the blood.
- If a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked, torn, or ruptured
- Head injury, even mild to moderate
- Ischemic strokes
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
- Inflammation of blood vessels which also called vasculitis
Sometimes it is not easy to find any of the physical causes of this headache. In this case, the headache may be due to idiopathic benign recurrent headache disorder.
This type of disorder usually refers to migraine headaches, which may not pose any threat to life.
Importantly, these types of headaches can only be known after diagnosing all the physical causes mentioned above. Also, there are some triggers which can be the reason for these types of headache.
These triggers are strain in bowel movement, mild or severe head injury, physical activities, and sexual activities.
Thunderclap Headache And Migraine
There are differences between thunderclap headache and migraine. But people who have frequent migraine headaches in the past are more prone to be affected by thunderclap headache.
The significant difference between thunderclap headache and migraine is the intensity of pain and the time lapses in attaining the pain’s peak.
In thunderclap, the pain intensity is very severe, and the affected person feels like never before. The migraine patient also feels the same way if they have a thunderclap headache. Also, it reaches a peak in very little time comparatively.
Also, there is a fine line between these two types of headaches. If the diagnosis says that the headache is not of thunderclap type, it must be a migraine headache.
Treatment of Thunderclap Headache
The diagnosis that helps determine the cause of thunderclap headache is a primary and a significant step towards the treatment of this headache disorder.
Usually, a CT Scan is enough for determining the reason for this headache. However, in some extreme cases, the CT Scan is not sufficient to know the reason. Therefore, the following additional test may be performed by your doctor.
- Lumbar Puncture- A fluid in the spinal cord is similar to the fluid present in your brain. In this test, fluid or blood from the spinal cord is tested to know the cause.
- Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)- This method is used to map your brain’s blood flow.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)- It helps the doctor in knowing the structure of your brain.
Any method to treat thunderclap headaches aims to treat the cause of the headaches. It entirely depends upon the reason for the headache and conditions of the patients. However, some significant treatment of this headache is-
- Medicine can control high blood pressure
- Medicine to control pain and recurrent thunderclap headache
- Surgery for blockage or rupture of blood vessels, etc
If you are suffering from this headache, never take pain reliever medicine without your doctor’s consultation.
Prevention of Thunderclap Headache
Generally, people having high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems are highly prone to affect from this headache. The following points you should follow to prevent this headache.
- If you have high blood pressure or any other cardiovascular problems, be in touch with your doctor. Your doctor will suggest the treatment plan, which includes preventing the triggers.
- An active lifestyle and a healthy diet help you lower the blood pressure, one of the causes of thunderclap headache.
- Natural blood thinner should be in your diet as it is effective in preventing blood clotting. Blood clotting and high blood pressure may cause a thunderclap headache, and it may lead to a rupture of blood vessels in the brain. It causes brain hemorrhage and internal bleeding.
- Control the cholesterol level in your body, and don’t smoke. Both are essential for healthy blood vessels.
- Some rigorous physical or sexual activities may cause a thunderclap headache. If you have such a problem, avoid those triggers.
Unlike any other type of headache, a thunderclap headache occurs suddenly. It doesn’t take time to grab your attention like what a clap of thunder does with you.
However, avoiding triggers and managing the underlying health criteria can prevent them from occurring.