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Thunderclap is a rare type of headache that occurs suddenly. When a person experiences thunderclap, there may be symptoms such as excruciating pain, nausea and vomiting.

When someone deals with thunderclap, the pain will usually last for about five minutes. Subsequently, the pain would just suddenly disappear.

Typically, thunderclap headaches result from bleeding in or around an area of ​​the brain. These conditions can be a sign of other, more serious medical conditions. If not treated promptly, thunderclap can be fatal and lead to death.

Causes of Thunderclap

Thunderclap is believed to occur due to bleeding in or around the brain area. This condition is also known as subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when the middle membrane and the gap between the brain bleeds suddenly. This bleeding can be due to abnormal bulges in the brain’s blood vessels or artery walls. Arteries basically serve to supply blood to the brain. When the artery walls become swollen, bleeding can occur and lead to fatal impact.

Thunderclap may also be caused by:

  • Small tear in the artery around the head and neck area.
  • Rupture of an artery or aneurysm, which is the swollen and weak part of the artery.
  • Rapid fluctuation of blood pressure.
  • Head wound.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Spinal fluid leak
  • Blockage of blood vessels in the head.

Several activities can trigger thunderclap:

  • Strenuous activities.
  • Consumption of certain medications, especially illegal drugs.
  • Being exposed to hot water suddenly, such as when taking a shower.

When to See a Doctor for Thunderclap?

Similar to other types of headaches, thunderclap condition should be consulted with a neurologist.

First, the doctor will ask about the patient’s medical history. Subsequently, the doctor will ask a number of questions to confirm the patient’s thunderclap condition, such as:

  • What types of headaches have you had before?
  • Can you describe your pain and symptoms?
  • Is there any activity that helps relieve or increase the pain?

Medical interviews are not adequate to identify the patient’s thunderclap symptoms in depth. The doctor will usually prescribe other tests such as: 

  • CT Scan, an imaging test of the head to observe the condition of the brain. With a CT scan, the doctor can see a picture of the patient’s brain. The doctor may also inject an iodine-based dye to highlight certain parts of the brain.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an imaging test to support the results of a CT scan. This test uses sound waves and a magnetic field.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap), performed by piercing the lumbar part of the spine to collect cerebrospinal fluid, which is the body fluid that covers the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms of Thunderclap

Unlike migraines or other types of headaches, thunderclap appears suddenly and unexpectedly.

The pain caused by thunderclap can be extremely painful and shocking. The effects of thunderclap are as startling as its namesake – thunder.

When a person has thunderclap, there will be pain in the head or neck – or in some cases, the back.

In addition to the general symptoms above, thunderclap can also cause specific symptoms such as:

  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Change in vision ability

Treatment for Thunderclap

Compared to other types of headaches, thunderclap is often associated with more severe medical conditions.  If not treated properly, thunderclap can be fatal and lead to death.

For this reason, thunderclap treatment needs to be done as early as possible.

Treatment for thunderclap depends on the triggers of the headache.

If the doctor concludes that the patient’s thunderclap symptoms are not caused by a particular disease, treatment can be done simply by taking medications prescribed by the doctor. Usually, the medications to treat thunderclap-type headache are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications can help relieve swelling that occurs in the blood vessels around the brain area.

If the doctor suspects that the thunderclap symptoms are the effect of spasms in the blood vessels around the brain area, the doctor may provide nifedipine, which is a medicine to treat high blood pressure or hypertension.

In some cases, thunderclap needs to be treated through a series of surgical procedures. Surgery is performed to repair torn or broken blood vessels, or to remove blockages. Thunderclap treatment options will be determined based on the patient’s condition and doctor’s diagnosis.

Treatment Cost for Thunderclap

The cost for Thunderclap treatment varies, depending on the patient’s condition and treatment method recommended by the doctor.

For more information regarding the estimated costs of Thunderclap treatment, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Thunderclap

In general, thunderclap is difficult to prevent. One of the preventive measures that can be undertaken is by knowing and understanding your overall health condition. Carrying out regular health screenings can help prevent yourself from developing diseases, which also includes thunderclap symptoms.

People with thunderclap usually have a genetic history of having headaches, swelling of blood vessels, or other problems in the brain.

People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop thunderclap. In addition, strenuous activities such as lifting weights can also affect the condition of the blood vessels around the brain. If not done carefully, thunderclap symptoms may appear.

Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Thunderclap

Patients diagnosed with thunderclap may perform home remedies to treat the symptoms. It is very important for you to have a balanced diet and resting pattern.

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