- Exploding head syndrome
Exploding head syndrome is a condition that causes the sufferer to occasionally experience a tremendously loud noise as originating from within his or her own head, usually described as the sound of an
explosion, roar, waves crashing against rocks, loud voices, or a ringing noise.
This noise usually occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not the result of a
dreamand can happen while awake as well. Perceived as extremely loud, the sound is usually not accompanied by pain. Attacks appear to change in frequency over time, with several attacks occurring in a space of days or weeks followed by months of remission. Sufferers often feel a sense of fearand anxietyafter an attack, accompanied by elevated heartrate. Attacks are also often accompanied by perceived flashes of light(when perceived on their own, known as a "visual sleep start") or difficulty in breathing. The condition is also known as "auditory sleep starts." It is not thought to be dangerous, although it is sometimes distressing to experience.
The cause of the exploding head syndrome is not known, though some physicians have reported a correlation with stress or extreme fatigue. The condition may develop at any time during life and women are slightly more likely to suffer from it than men. Attacks can be one-time events, or can recur.
The mechanism is also not known, though possibilities have been suggested; one is that it may be the result of a sudden movement of a
middle earcomponent or of the eustachian tube, another is that it may be the result of a form of minor seizurein the temporal lobewhere the nervecells for hearing are located. Electroencephalograms recorded during actual attacks show unusual activity only in some sufferers, and have ruled out epileptic seizures as a cause.cite journal| journal=Sleep| year=1991| month=Jun| volume=14| issue=3| pages=263–6| title=The exploding head syndrome: polysomnographic recordings and therapeutic suggestions| last=Sachs| first=C| coauthors=Svanborg E.| pmid=1896728]
A report by a British physician in 1988 might be the first description of exploding head syndrome: cite journal| journal=Lancet| year=1988| month=Jul 30| volume=2| issue=8605| pages=270–1| title=Exploding head syndrome| last= Pearce| first=JM| pmid=2899248| doi=10.1016/S0140-6736(88)92551-2]
Symptoms may be resolved spontaneously over time. It may be helpful to reassure the patient that this symptom is harmless.
Clomipraminehas been used in three patients, who experienced immediate relief from this condition.
* [http://jnnp.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/52/7/907 Medical Journal Entry on Syndrome]
* [http://www.sleepeducation.com/Disorder.aspx?id=33 Article on Syndrome]
* [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Search&db=PubMed&term=exploding+head+syndrome&tool=QuerySuggestion Pub Med list of Medical Articles on Exploding Head Syndrome]
* [http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exploding-head-syndrome/AN00929 Mayo Clinic information on Exploding Head Syndrome]
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