Know Your Pain

Thunderclap Headache Attacks Suddenly

As the name suggests, thunderclap headaches are a sudden and severe bout of headache. A thunderclap headache usually escalates within 60 seconds and lasts for several hours before it fades away. Though, these headaches are a little uncommon, they can be a warning sign of some serious complications. Many a times, a thunderclap headache is a symptom of bleeding in and around the brain. Thus, it is important that you consult a doctor at the earliest if you are experiencing a thunderclap headache.

Causes
Usually the cause of a thunderclap headache remains unidentifiable. The headache seems to appear out of the blues. But several internal causes or malfunctioning around the brain can trigger such a headache. Here are some of the possible causes of a thunderclap headache.

* Bleeding in or around the brain and its surrounding membranes
* Rupturing or bulging of a blood vessel
* Tearing of the lining of an artery that supplies blood to the brain
* Leaking of cerebrospinal fluid due to tearing of a membrane that surrounds the brain
* Blocking of the cerebrospinal fluid due to a cyst
* Bleeding in the pituitary gland

Symptoms
Thunderclap headaches are characterized by a sudden and dramatic build up of pain in the head. It could feel like one of the worst headaches you would have ever experienced in your life. The pain hits its peak within a minute and lasts for several hours. However, in some cases the pain may persist for a couple of days.

Diagnosis
Usually several tests are done to diagnose a thunderclap headache. Here are some of the tests that you might just need to go through.

* CT Scan. The diagnosis of a thunderclap headache begins with a CT scan of the head.
* Spinal tap. In this test a small amount of fluid is removed from the area that surrounds the brain. This fluid is tested for white blood cells and other substances.
* MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is used to study the images of cross section of the brain.
* Angiography. This is done to obtain a picture of the blood vessel inside your brain.

Treatment
The treatment depends upon the cause of the headache. However, many a times no identifiable cause of the headache is found. In such cases the doctor may give you a preventive medicine to be taken on a daily basis. Even if you do not undergo a proper treatment, the headache fades away within a few weeks. However, this does not mean that you should not see a doctor.

A thunderclap headache is definitely not something that you can't take casually. The problem demands immediate attention and should be cured with proper medical intervention.