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What is Exploding Head Syndrome?

Updated on August 17, 2017
ziyena profile image

Indie author via Amazon Publishing of historical romance and paranormal novellas.

Migraine
Migraine | Source

My Experience

A few weeks ago, I managed to bang the back of my head on the concave glass wall. Like the clumsy bumbler that I am, I failed to measure the distance between myself and a wing-backed chair in which I unceremoniously plopped myself into while chatting on my cell phone.

Whack! In an instant, a blinding, bright light with a train of glittering stars derailed inside my head. The pain was an excruciating, and the soreness left me tender for a few days. Though an uncomfortable feeling, I thought nothing more of it other than a silly accident until just this last week when I had an unexpected and literal mind-blowing experience.

If you experience exploding head syndrome then you might be able to relate to this illustration.
If you experience exploding head syndrome then you might be able to relate to this illustration. | Source

What the Heck?

While falling into a blissful sleep, I experienced a violent jolt. The only way I can describe it was like an electrocution surging through my brain. The after effect was that of confusion and a numb, tingling heat that started from the left side of my temple and down the side of my cheek, surrounding the corner of my lips, and lasted for about a day.

Of course, I went to the ER and had a CT scan with normal results. No blood clot, aneurysm, or cracked skull, everything reported as absolutely fine. Given my disbelief, the doctor did suggest I immediately see a neurologist since I had experience what seemed to be a seizure.

Had I really experienced a seizure or was this something else?

Like an investigator, I took every possible path with my online research. Hitting my head are the most likely answer to this new condition I'm experiencing, maybe a Post Concussion Syndrome, but then there is another possibility. I have had for some time, chronic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and with this ailment you can also experience bouts of insomnia, which is another possible link to Exploding Head Disorder. At this point, I can not pin-point the reasoning behind my sudden onset. However, what I can pin-point is that this condition happens right before falling to sleep. There is a surge, maybe two or three right before the big one, and then after-shocks that can last for a few hours. For someone who suffers from insomnia, it is only another reason for even more frustration, especially if you have to get up in the morning and ready for work. I guess that topic is another hub just waiting to be written.

Lateral View of the Brain

Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally.  Gray's Anatomy
Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum viewed laterally. Gray's Anatomy | Source

What is it?

Exploding Head Syndrome or (EHS) is a condition which was first publicly discussed by Robert Armstong Jones, a Welsh Physician who in 1920 described the ailment as an exploding sensation in the head.

For those individuals who suffer from EHS, they tend to experience an extremely loud noise, or an electrical pulse, which surges through their head. Some may experience a bright flash of light, or visual static which accompanies the initial sensation. In many cases, the respondent may experience an out-of-body sensation where they experience a surge which makes them feel an electrical separation of mind and body while others experience a rush of adrenaline, and heart-pounding palpitations, which border symptoms of a panic attack. While most report dealing with a large amount of stress, there are some who develop insomnia from fear of the unavoidable sensations which come with the disorder.

The American Sleep Association (ASA) regards the disorder as a non-dangerous ailment and explains further:

"Exploding Head Syndrome is thought to be highly connected with stress and extreme fatigue in most individuals. What actually causes the sensation in individuals is still unknown, though speculation of possible sources includes minor seizures affecting the temporal lobe, or sudden shifts in the middle ear components."

Possible Reasons for a Migraine

Migraine Comorbidities
Migraine Comorbidities | Source

How do I Know if I'm Experiencing Exploding Head Syndrome or a Seizure?

All seizures have three stages:

  1. The first stage you may experience is that of a severe headache, dizziness and blurring vision, a tingling sensation with a funny feeling in the stomach.
  2. The second stage may be a convulsion, erratic shaking, stiffness, blacking out or falling down.
  3. The third stage is usually feeling very weak with exhaustion and and falling asleep.

In comparison with Exploding Head Syndrome, the symptoms are less severe in that you do not experience convulsion; however, you may experience a mini seizure which may or may not hold all the other characteristics of a full blown seizure, which is known as "Grand Mal"

The best way to determine what you are experiencing would be to visit your doctor. Get a referral with a Neurologist and have a sleep study ordered. Although Exploding Head Syndrome is not life threatening, it can seem debilitating when aligned with insomnia, causing the sufferer to need additional help, including visits to a psychotherapist.

Sleep Center Study

Effects of TBI

Surviving Head Trauma : A Guide to Recovery Written by a Traumatic Brain Injury Patient
Surviving Head Trauma : A Guide to Recovery Written by a Traumatic Brain Injury Patient

"Sometimes life doesn’t always unfold the way you plan. On July 20, 1984 while at USMC Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, a young Marine was a passenger in a three-ton troop transport vehicle that, while traveling at sixty-five miles per hour, flipped and rolled several times, finally coming to rest upside down. Several Marines were dead, but one man was still alive. He was Terry Smith.

After dying twice during brain surgery on that fateful day, Terry Smith has since learned to adjust to the limitations that accompany Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). At Bethesda Naval Hospital, Terry learned to walk, talk, eat, think, and live again, but learning to cope with seizures, anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, and memory loss did not happen overnight—or even after two decades. It is only through years of trial and error that Terry has learned to make the transition from pre-TBI to post-TBI, proving that the healing process is never-ending for head trauma patients.

Terry Smith is a true survivor who has defied the odds. Today he shares his inspirational story of hope for the future for TBI patients, their families, doctors, and anyone who has insurmountable obstacles to overcome."

 

© 2013 ziyena

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  • ziyena profile image
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    ziyena 3 years ago from ... Somewhere Out There ...

    I'm thinking it's more than EHS now. Unfortunate for me but today my physician is telling me that it's looking more and more like post concussion syndrome with TIA activity (mini strokes) ... looks like I will be taking it easy for awhile. Thanks for your concern. God Bless

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thank you for the introductory lesson on EHS. I appreciate you sharing from your own experience, and I pray that you have no further complications. All the best going forward!