Thunderclap headaches

Thunderclap headaches live up to their name, grabbing your attention like a clap of thunder. The pain of these sudden, severe headaches peaks within 60 seconds and can start fading after an hour. Some of these headaches, however, can last for more than a week.

Thunderclap headaches are uncommon, but they can be a warning sign of potentially life-threatening conditions — usually having to do with bleeding in and around the brain. That's why it's so important to seek emergency medical attention if you experience a thunderclap headache.

Symptoms Causes

Thunderclap headaches are dramatic. Symptoms include pain that:

  • Strikes suddenly and severely — sometimes described as the worst headache ever experienced
  • Peaks within 60 seconds
  • Lasts for anywhere between an hour to 10 days
  • Can occur anywhere in the head or neck
  • Can be accompanied by nausea or vomiting

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate medical attention for any headache that comes on suddenly and severely.

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