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What Are Thunderclap Headaches?

By Randi Morse

Having a headache can completely ruin your day. It can make you have to forego all of your daily chores and can leave you lying in a darkened room, hoping that your head stops aching. One of the trickier things about headaches is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Some headaches are only in one lobe of your brain while others span both lobes. Some headaches come on suddenly while others slowly build. Most headaches are fairly harmless, unless they continually recur, but there is one type of headache that, should you have it, you should seek medical care immediately.

Thunderclap Headaches

These types of headaches are called thunderclap headaches (TCH). It's considered by medical professionals to be a medical emergency. There can be a number of different causes that are associated with TCH, and while some of the causes are benign, there are others that can be potentially fatal. If you are experiencing a thunderclap headache, which occurs if you have a sudden, excruciating pain in your head, it is important to immediately go to the closest hospital, or dial 911. 

Thunderclap Causes

There are a few things that can cause thunderclap headaches, one of the most worrisome being a brain aneurysm or a brain infection. Other symptoms, such as droopy eye and sleepiness, can accompany these medical conditions. If you experience a thunderclap headache and go to the hospital, you will likely be given blood work and undergo brain imaging. This will be done using computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

Treating TCH

There is not one specific treatment for TCH, and there is no preventative medication options either. If the TCH is not being caused by a fatal condition, there are medical options that your physician can try to help alleviate the pain and prevent more episodes from occurring. It is always a good idea to contact your physician if you are concerned about the headaches you are having, especially if they recur regularly, but if you ever have a sudden, searing pain in your head that is more painful than any headache you've ever had, it's a good idea to err on the side of caution and go to an urgent care, or an emergency room, as soon as you possibly can. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Flagstaff, Ariz.

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