Symptoms and Treatment for the Thunderclap Headache

Thunderclap headaches happen to be high-intensity headaches that occur all of a sudden and can be explosive and severe, almost like a “clap of thunder” inside the head. The pain experienced when a thunderclap headache occurs resembles the pain experienced during ruptured cerebral aneurysm. The “clap of thunder” and terrible explosion of high-intensity pain that are experienced when a thunderclap headache suggest the presence of multiple serious underlying medical conditions. For instance, if a brain hemorrhage is the cause of the thunderclap headache, then it is known as a secondary headache.


When a thunderclap headache is evaluated, typically questions pertaining to the duration, intensity, and onset of the headache are asked by the doctor. The following are included among a primary thunderclap headache’s symptoms:

— Can last between 1 hour and 10 days– Experienced anywhere in the head, or even the neck– May recur in the week following onset– Nausea or vomiting may accompany headache– Peaks within 60 seconds


The treatment of a thunderclap headache depends on the cause of the headache that has been diagnosed. First and foremost, the doctor checks for conditions like burst or swollen blood vessels or thyroid glands in the brain since these can cause sudden death. A medical imaging machine like a CT scanner or an MRI scanner is used to immediately scan the patient’s brain. If one of these problems is seen in the scans, then the bleeding is stopped by performing surgery on the patient.

In the case of inconclusive scanning test results, most likely a lumbar puncture or a spinal tap is performed by doctors so that cerebro-spinal fluid can be examined. Signs of infection or whether internal bleeding has occurred are revealed by the fluid.

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If a thunderclap head is accompanied by other symptoms, such as high fever, strange red marks on the skin or stiff neck, then meningitis may be the cause of the headache. In such cases, the underlying meningitis has to be treated in order to get rid of the thunderclap headache.

If patients suffering thunderclap headaches are feeling nauseous or are vomiting, then painkillers are administered to them intravenously. The specific circumstances of the patient and the doctor’s discretion determine which painkiller is administered.

Thunderclap headaches do not have a single treatment since there so many potential factors that can cause these headaches. So, once a cause is found, the goal of treatment is to help alleviate that underlying cause.

Coping & Support

Talking to other people who have experienced thunderclap headaches in the past may prove to be useful. Joining a local support group can help how other people coped with the discomfort and pain associated with thunderclap headaches.


It is true that thunderclap headaches are not very common. However, when these headaches are experienced, people should take it as a warning sign that they may be suffering from a potentially life threatening condition, usually something to do with bleeding around or in their brain. That is why immediate emergency medical attention should be sought out by people in the United Kingdom, whenever a thunderclap headache is experienced, and having an EHIC card can ensure free emergency medical care.