Have you ever heard of ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches?

Picture this….You’re relaxing in your favorite chair, or out with friends for coffee or perhaps enjoying a delightful soothing bath, when unexpectedly, BAM!!, you’re struck with this horrendous pain in your head; the worst headache pain you’ve ever felt.  It’s different from a migraine, and termed a “THUNDERCLAP” headache.

During the warmer weather, two years ago, for a couple of hellish months, I’d been lucky to dodge migraines for a few days here and there.  But, no time for celebration, as I was suddenly contending with these sudden ‘BAM!’ headaches as well.  The pain was directed in the middle of my forehead, top of my head and covering my entire face, not a typical migraine for me, which are bilateral.

For two weeks straight I’d experienced six of those headaches but one just before a weekend was by far the most severe, finding myself at emergency (I avoid the ER as much as possible with the rolled eyes when you arrive with a ‘headache’, noise, lights, long waits and I’m usually forgotten about with a low priority status).

The ER doc wasn’t very obliging and didn’t appear to be alarmed by my symptoms as I blurted out that this was the worst of any headache that I’ve had in the past two weeks (I googled beforehand if this type of headache had an actual name or category).

I asked him if these were ‘Thunderclap Headaches’, he was skeptical, yet returned later, agreeing that it falls under the symptoms of “Thunderclap”, thus ordering a CT scan which turned up with no abnormalities.  He arranged for an MRI which was done the following YEAR (my city is seriously backed-up), and the results showed no abnormalities also

The ER doctor was useless with his only ‘lightbulb’ remedy, “take Tylenol and call your neurologist”.  Thanks, Doc for that helpful advice!

I saw my neuro, he gave me a jargon description of these headaches, but the positive is that I’ve only had a few over the past two years.  Puzzling.

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy/2017

Other info: Severe Headache Expert


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I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

4 thoughts on “Have you ever heard of ‘Thunderclap’ Headaches?”

  1. I’ve never had thunderclap but I understand they are BAD. I have had a similar experience with cluster headaches which are also very frightening. I hope things stay settled for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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