Exploding head syndrome

Timothy C. Hain, MD. •Page last modified: May 23, 2022

Major pages on this site on tinnitus includet Tinnitus:  •Treatment of Tinnitus

Exploding Head
Illustration from https://dougthorpe.com/this-makes-my-head-explode/

Tinnitus can occur as a sleep disorder - -this is called the "exploding head syndrome". This most often occurs while falling asleep or waking up. It is a tremendously loud noise. Some theorize that this syndrome is due to a brief seizure in auditory cortex. It is not dangerous.(Green 2001; Palikh and Vaughn 2010). Nakayama et al (2021) suggested "It has been suspected that exploding head syndrome is related to emotional stress, because most patients report stressful life situations in periods when attacks are intense and frequent." Logically, anticonvulsants might be useful for treatment. Palikh and Vaughn reported that topirimate was helpful. Rossi et al (2018) reported a case that improved with nortriptyline. The common feature to both of these drugs are that they are anti-migraine.

Little has been written about "exploding head" syndrome.

A recent article by Milinski and others reviewed the connection between tinnitus and sleep. It seems a bit complex.