Thunderclap Headache-Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis - Medicalsworld

Thunderclap Headache-Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis

What is Thunderclap Headache- It’s Causes, Symptoms, Triggers, Diagnosis


The thunderclap headaches live up to their name, suddenly striking like a thunderclap. The pain from these severe headaches peaks in 60 seconds. 
Thunderclap headaches are rare, but they can warn of life-threatening conditions – usually related to bleeding in and around the brain.
Today in this blog I am going to describe in detail about the thunderclap headache, it’s causes, symptoms, triggers, diagnosis.


A thunderclap headache is a severe and sudden headache with enough force to literally knock a person over. The sudden impact of the headache can come out of nowhere. 
Lightning or Thunderclap headache can be a sign of a life-threatening condition. This type of headache does not gradually increase. 
Instead, it is an intense and very painful headache as soon as it starts. In fact, it is often described as the worst headache in life
It may be associated with some type of bleeding in your brain. 
It can also have a mild, non-life-threatening cause, but should be checked immediately to find out the cause.
The pain can peak within 60-seconds, with the pain often starting to fade and clear after 60-minutes. 
A very severe thunderclap headache is still noticed after a period of 7 days or longer. The pain is noticed anywhere in the region of the neck or head.


A thunderclap headache is rare. But can be an early indication of a life-threatening condition. 
They could be giving a warning related to a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), a brain aneurysm (swelling blood vessels), or a blood clot in the brain. 
Other issues may relate to pituitary apoplexy (a burst pituitary gland), a stroke, or meningitis. Since some of these conditions can result in death within hours, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


The symptoms of lightning headache are similar regardless of the cause. These symptoms can be:
  • Sudden kick to the head which results in crippling pain
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fainting
  • Vision problems
  • You feel like it’s the worst headache you’ve ever had
  • Pain all over your head
  • Headache, including neck or lower back


It can be triggered by certain activities or have no trigger at all.
A thunderclap headache usually reaches its worst point after only 60 seconds. 
It often starts to go away about an hour after the worst pain point, but sometimes it can take a week or more.

Thunderclap Headache against migraine Headache

Most lightning headaches are not the same thing as migraines. However, it is common for those with thunderclap headaches to have had migraines in the past.
The biggest difference between a severe migraine and a thunderclap headache is the severity of the pain. The pain of a thunderclap will be the worst pain you have ever felt. This also applies to people with migraines. 
Thunderclap headache can also resemble a “crash” migraine. Only tests performed by a healthcare professional can determine the type of headache you have.
If tests show that your lightning headache is not fatal, it can be a condition that is considered a type of migraine.

Causes and Triggers

Lightning headache is usually a symptom of hemorrhage or bleeding in the brain, which can be fatal if not treated quickly. 
The most common cause of this type of bleeding is a broken aneurysm in the brain. Other serious and life-threatening causes can be:
  • A blood vessel in the brain that has been torn, blocked, or torn
  • Hemorrhagic stroke
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Mild to moderate head trauma
  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • Vasculitis or inflammation of a blood vessel


In some cases, a physical cause for your thunderclap headache cannot be found. These types of thunderclap headaches are believed to result from a disorder of benign idiopathic headaches. 
This disorder is a type of migraine and is generally not fatal. This disorder can only be diagnosed after all other causes have been tested.
While there may be no cause for this type, some things are common triggers. These triggers include:
  • Sexual activity
  • Physical activity
  • A saddle that tires you
  • Injury

Treatment for thunderclap headaches

The first step in treating thunderclap headaches is to determine the cause.
The areas of greatest concern like swollen or burst blood vessels in the brain or thyroid glands are checked as a matter of urgency. 
It is also crucial to check for blood clots in the brain.
After a physical exam and gathering information about your symptoms, your doctor usually starts a CT scan. CT scans are often enough for your doctor to determine the cause. 
However, if this does not give a clear cause, additional tests are carried out. Some of these tests include:
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI can help your doctor recognize the structure of your brain.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). An MRA maps the blood flow in your brain using an MRI machine.
  • Lumbar puncture. A lumbar puncture, commonly known as a lumbar puncture, removes a blood or fluid sample from your spinal cord that is then tested. This fluid is the same as what surrounds your brain.


There are different treatment options depending on the cause of your headache. The treatments focus on treating the cause of your headache. Treatments can include:
  • Operation to repair a crack or blockage
  • Medicines to control blood pressure
Pain reliever to control recurrent headache with thunderclap, especially headache with a specific trigger
This is not a complete list of treatment options for thunderclap headaches. Your doctor will tell you about the treatment options based on the specific cause of your headache.

Complications and related diseases

Many causes of lightning headache are fatal if they are not quickly diagnosed and treated. Conditions that can be associated with thunderbolt headaches include:
  • Blows
  • Migraines
  • Head injury
  • High blood pressure


When should a doctor be consulted?

You should see a doctor right away if you have severe and sudden headaches of any kind for the first time. 
This type of headache can be a sign or symptom of a life-threatening illness.
Some causes of thunderclap headaches may not be life threatening. 
However, the cause of your headache can only be determined by a healthcare professional.


If you see a doctor right away if you have a headache, the cause can usually be treated or treated effectively. Delaying medical treatment can, however, be fatal.
If you suffer from regular migraines, you should always consult a doctor as soon as possible if you have sudden and severe headaches that are worse than any other migraine in your past.

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