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Kaboom! It's Exploding Head Syndrome!

Exploding Head Syndrome.. tiny pops in head when closing eyes

Oh, okay. So your head is NOT going to actually explode. But when this happens to you, it is scary enough that you think that it just might!
While researching this syndrome, I found reports saying both that it is common and that it is rare. It occurs mostly in ages over 50, yet other ages have been reported, and women seem to have it more often than men. Aren't we lucky!
I guess I was super "lucky" because it happened to me when I was 55.
David Uskavitch, M.D., clinical director of the Vanderbilt Neurological Clinic in Nashville, TN says Exploding Head Syndrome is a part of a family of disorders called sleep-related myoclonus.
I don't know about you, but the name isn't something I'm going to remember.
But after telling my doctor about it and getting a look like he thought I was nuts... it feels good to know what's going on!
It seems to happen with the feeling of falling as you fall asleep, and can also include restless leg syndrome, and sleep twitches.
This syndrome is not something I ever heard about and actually had a hard time finding out what it is.
How I even knew there was such a thing was because I had it.

Blood Pressure Related? Or Not?

Symptoms of Exploding Head Syndrome It started for me at the exact time I found out I needed to watch my blood pressure. In fact the weekend I went to the hospital, I was afraid to go to sleep because every single time I even closed my eyes, it was either as if tiny explosions were going off in my head or a bigger thunderclap went off.
As my blood pressure went down, the incidents of exploding head syndrome actually decreased.
 However, from doing my research, no one has put together high blood pressure and exploding head syndrome.
The timing of how mine occurred makes me wonder, though, if it shouldn't be considered. That's only my theory tho.
The only time it seems to happen to me now is when I am super tired (you know, spent one or more nights so focused on learning more stuff either for this blog or another project,  that I look up and…oh my gosh – it's getting light out!) or I'm super stressed.
What I do see reports in studies is that this is stress-related. Ummm…hello – stress can equal higher blood pressure.
What I have discovered from researching it all out is that it is not fatal, or even something to worry about. 
So when you close your eyes and see fireworks going off in your head & are hearing popping sounds,  AND you know perfectly well that your blood pressure is ok, exploding head syndrome could be what is going on.
The sense of having these explosions or feeling like there is a thumping on your head happens apparently either right as you are going to sleep or after sleep has begun, thus waking the person up – in a terrifying manner if you don't know what is going on.
Imagine waking up to explosions in your head. Not fun. Not fun at all!

Many Doctors Aren't Aware of Exploding Head Syndrome

Good luck with getting a diagnosis from your doctor. He or she will more than likely look at you like you are crazy. 

"Say what? Exploding head syndrome?! Never heard of it."  When I talked to my doctor, I didn't have that much information, and he just looked at me as if I was nuts!
Dr. Neil Kline, who is a sleep physician and representative from the American Sleep Association, says, "It's a sleep phenomenon. The individual senses that some type of explosion has occurred nearby, but ultimately realizes it's in his or her head.
It's not associated with pain or with any disorder that we know of and there are no physiological medical consequences that are associated with it."

Keep reading...

EHS - Exploding Head Syndrome with high blood pressure

Just Knowing About EHS Seems to Help

Some patients have been given anti-depressants for the syndrome, but the journal "Current Pain and Headache Reports" published a study in 2001 that said, "most sufferers require only reassurance that the spells are benign in nature."
I must admit that before I heard that, I would pray at night that my head was not going to explode and that I wouldn’t have an aneurysm or stroke. Now that I know what's happening, I still pray, but I am less stressed about it (which probably helps right there).
What to Do If It Happens To You     
 So if it does happen to you, like I said before, as long as you know your blood pressure is ok, take some long deep breaths, relax, get your mind off it by reading or watching a funny tv show. Then try again to go back to sleep, because that sleep is healing.
Especially if these episodes are new to you and you wake up startled and scared, your blood pressure will be higher than normal. So you need to know what it's doing all along.

Sudden Massive Headache, Stars in Head, Nausea, Dizziness

 If, on the other hand, you have a sudden massive headache, and/or you're seeing stars in your head, have nausea, dizziness or other signs of dangerously high blood pressure, that is the time not to take any chances and dial 911 or have someone get you to the hospital.
That being said, if there is any doubt what it is, be sure to check with your doctor. The advice here is not to be considered medical advice. It is information to help you make decisions about and to lead you toward better health. Medical advice is from your doctor.

Images courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.com and Wikimedia Commons.


Mapes, Diane. Loud Crash at 3 a.m.? It may be your exploding head. February 17, 2010. http://www.nbcnews.com/health/loud-crash-3-m-it-may-be-your-exploding-head-1C9926224.

5 Tips for Battling Exploding Head Syndrome.  Posted January 26, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/23/exploding-head-syndrome-tips_n_1167768.html
American Sleep Association. Exploding Head Syndrome.  Reviewed September 2007. http://www.sleepassociation.org/?p=explodingheadsyndrome.