Exploding Head Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Cure - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

Exploding Head Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Cure

Dr.Venkata Rama Krishna K profile Authored by Dr.Venkata Rama Krishna K on 7 Mar 2016 - 11:30.


According to American Sleep Association, Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS) is a sleeping disorder characterized by the perception of loud noises like a gunshot, bomb explosion or clash of cymbals. These episodes can provoke a high level of confusion, fear and distress in patients and can disrupt your sleep and the quality of life.

Experts find that females are at a greater risk than males and this normally sets in around the age of 50 years. EHS is a rare phenomenon which was reported in 1920 by Armstrong-Jones when he referred to it as “snapping of the brain.” The term EHS was coined by Pearce in 1989 in a paper in which he described 40 patients with EHS.

EHS is a parasomnia that involves undesired events that come along with sleep.  Exploding head consists of a loud noise that you suddenly imagine just before you fall asleep. It can seem like a violent explosion has gone off in your head. It can also occur when you are going to sleep or awakening. Exploding head syndrome can be confused with other headache syndromes. However, exploding head is normally painless and headache syndromes can cause great pain.

Symptoms: You may have EHS if you:

  • Imagine a sudden loud noise or explosion in your head just before falling asleep or just after waking up in the night. The sounds include a bomb, gunshot, door slamming, people screaming, electrical buzzing sound or clash of cymbals
  • Find these sounds are normally free of any sense of pain
  • Find these events wake you suddenly with a sense of fright
  • Experience a sensation of a flashing light
  • Experience breathing problems like short lasting difficult breathing or gasping of breath
  • Experience an episode of sleep paralysis
  • Find the episode lasts for few seconds or minutes.

Causes of EHS:  The etiological reasons of why exploding head syndrome happens are quite perplexing. However, the exact reason is not yet known, but some physicians and psychologists believe that the following causes may lead to experiencing such a syndrome:

  • High stress
  • Muscle jerk or twitch
  • Seizure to the temporal lobe
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Damage to the brain’s nerve cells
  • Age factor (person aged above 50 years)
  • Movement of the Eustachian tube
  • Quick and sudden movement of the component of the middle ear
  • Sudden withdrawal of drugs

Is there a cure for EHS?

Although there is still a lack of a common “cure” for EHS, experts have found some success with following natural remedies:

  • Control your stress: Stress is known to be one of the possible causative factors that elevates the frequency and intensity of parasomnias and sleep starts. Experts recommend following some stress-management techniques like meditation, yoga exercises, simply a hot bath before sleeping or perhaps psychotherapy.
  • Medication:  Usually anti-depressant medications are prescribed in persons with exploding head syndromes. Researchers have found some success with anti-depressant medications like Tompimirate, Clonezapam, Clomipramnine and Nifedipine. These medicines can help treat EHS.
  • Avoiding fatigue episodes– According to studies, parasomnias such as EHS occur when persons are physically exhausted. One can avoid fatigue episodes by trying to get an ample amount of sleep per day. The recommended hours of sleep are 8 hours each day. Also make lifestyle choices which form good sleep hygiene.
  • Reassurance: A patient suffering from EHS should be assured that the condition is harmless and physically debilitating. This is the best and most reliable procedure to diminish a patient’s anxiety related to EHS.
  • Relaxation: Relaxation is encouraged in order to lower the frequency of occurrence of EHS. This also reduces anxiety and stress, both of which are associated with EHS. Keeping some time for leisure activities such as relaxing with family and friends and recreation activities like reading, listening to music before going to sleep, in known to help.
  • A balanced diet: Individuals are recommended to eat a well-balanced diet, that includes fresh fruits and vegetables which offer minerals and vitamins that assist in relieving stress, ultimately leading to a restful night.







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