Thunderclap headache, also known as "Thunderclap Headache" in English, is a headache of the strongest, previously unknown intensity. He starts suddenly and reaches his pain maximum within a minute. Then it can last from one hour to ten days. Accompanying symptoms may be nausea, vomiting or photosensitivity. Since a life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage could be the cause, a doctor should be consulted immediately with every thunderbolt headache.
Primary and secondary thunderclap headache
Thunderclap headache distinguishes between a primary and a secondary form:
- The primary or idiopathic thunderbolt headache is also called extermination headache. He has no organically detectable cause and is considered "benign".
- In a secondary or symptomatic form, however, the headache is based on a disease. Despite different causes, the symptoms are the same in both cases.
Primary thunderclap headaches occur in less than 0.05 percent of the population. Allegedly, the pain predominantly occurs in the age group between 25 and 65 years. In particular, they are said to be noticeable in patients with a history of migraine.
Thunderbolt headache as a symptom of other disorders
It is disputed among medical scientists whether there is thunderclap headache as a distinct primary headache form at all. Therefore, should always be carefully searched for a possible cause of the complaints. Frequently, headache is the leading symptom of serious diseases of the blood vessels within the skull.
Consequently, the diagnosis of a primary thunderclap headache should be considered safe only when all other possible causes have been excluded.
Cerebral haemorrhage as the most common cause
The most common and most dangerous cause of secondary thunderclap headache is a special form of cerebral hemorrhage called subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAB). In 20 to 50 percent of those affected, it is preceded by a thunderbolt headache as a warning symptom.
Subarachnoid haemorrhage is a bleeding in the cleft between the middle meninges and the brain surface. There are many blood vessels in this small space. If a vessel breaks (rupture), the escaping blood spreads in the subarachnoid space and presses on the brain from the outside. The reason for the cerebral hemorrhage is usually an enlargement of the arteries (aneurysms) at the base of the skull.
Subarachnoid haemorrhage can usually be detected by computed tomography as a flat, white, adjacent to the brain surface district. In the worst case, it can trigger a stroke and lead to severe, permanent brain dysfunction. Since an SAB is life-threatening, immediate intensive medical treatment is essential.
Other causes of thunderclap headache
Other possible causes of thunderclap headache may be, for example:
- a sinus vein thrombosis
- a meningitis
- sinusitis (sinusitis)
Thunderclap Headache: Immediately to the doctor!
Any sudden, massive thunderclap headache can potentially be very dangerous. To rule out a life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage or other organic cause, you should quickly go to a hospital emergency room and undergo thorough diagnostics.