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.
Feb. 08, 2012
- Olesen J, et al. The international classification of headache disorders. International Headache Society. http://ihs-classification.org/en/02_klassifikation/02_teil1/04.06.00_other.html. Accessed Oct. 19, 2011.
- Approach to the patient with headache. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/headache/approach_to_the_patient_with_headache.html. Accessed Oct. 23, 2011.
- Goadsby PJ, et al. Headache. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9094791. Accessed Oct. 23, 2011.
- Headache: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/headache/detail_headache.htm. Accessed Oct. 23, 2011.
- DuPont SA, et al. Thunderclap headache and normal computed tomographic results: Value of cerebrospinal fluid analysis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2008;83:1326.
- Savitz SI, et al. Thunderclap headache with normal CT and lumbar puncture: Further investigations are unnecessary: For. Stroke. 2008;39:1392.
- Tarshish S, et al. Teaching case presentation: Primary thunderclap headache. Headache. 2009;49:1249.
- Mistry N, et al. Thunderclap headache. Practical Neurology. 2009;9:294.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Oct. 23, 2011.
- Headache Classification Subcommittee of the International Headache Society. The international classification of headache disorders: 2nd ed. Cephalalgia. 2004;24(suppl):9.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.