What's a Thunderclap Headache?

Teri Robert @trobert Health Guide
  • Thunderclap headache (TCH) refers to an excruciating headache of instantaneous onset—as sudden and as unexpected as a “clap of thunder.” It is a form of headache that should never be ignored, but should always be thoroughly investigated.


    The term "thunderclap headache" was first used to describe this headache as a symptom of an unruptured cerebral aneurysm. Since then, some other disorders have been noted to also present with TCH. Those disorders include:

    • subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH),
    • cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST),
    • pituitary apoplexy,
    • spontaneous intracranial hypotension (SIH),
    • hypertensive encephalopathy,
    • and retroclival hematoma.

    In all of these cases, since the TCH is caused by another disorder, the headache is classified as a secondary headache.

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    When no organic cause is present, primary thunderclap headache may be diagnosed.


    You can learn more about thunderclap headache in Thunderclap Headache - The Basics.


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    Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape© Teri Robert, 2011
    Last updated February 14, 2011

Published On: February 14, 2011