Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS)

The condition we chose is known as the “Exploding Head Syndrome”, or EHS for short.

Exploding head syndrome is considered a parasomnia. This means that events which are unwanted come along while you are in, near or coming out of sleep. While relatively harmless, exploding head syndrome can cause panic, disturbance and fright.

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Basically, exploding head syndrome consists of sudden noises which you imagine, sometimes flashes of light may occur as well. These noises are described as “painless loud bangs”, “a clash of cymbals”, or “a bomb exploding”. Why we have made the conclusion of using this condition for our essay is because we found it an absorbing topic to learn about; along with our curiosity of how it works.

The earliest case reports there are of exploding head syndrome go as far back as 1876. When it was first noticed, they referred to it as “sensory discharges”, this reference was made by Silas Weir Mitchell. In 1920, though, Robert Armstrong-Jones (a British physician and psychiatrist) then bought in the phrase “snapping of the brain”. Not until 1989 did they get a detailed description of the syndrome.

That is when the name “exploding head syndrome” came into view by the British neurologist John M. S. Pearce. There isn’t an exact year that’s for sure, but more recently, it has been proposed to changing the name “exploding head syndrome” to “episodic cranial sensory shock” by Peter Goadsby and Brian Sharpless.   This condition mostly acts on those ages 50 and up, although people as young as 10 years of age have experienced it.

It occurs on only around 10% of the population and is more likely to affect females than males. There are multiple theories as to what may cause exploding head syndrome. One of the theories, which some scientists have speculated, is that minor temporal lobe seizures may somehow be connected to this condition. Minor temporal lobe seizures are just seizures which occur in the temporal lobe of the brain. The temporal lobe holds the primary auditory cortex, which is involved with sensory information (such as hearing) from the ears; which then gets the information processed into significant units for words and speech.

Another one of the theories, as to what may cause this syndrome, is sudden shifts of the middle ear components. Basically this is just when the components located in the middle ear are moved around suddenly, which can then possibly cause exploding head syndrome. A few other theories which scientists believe may cause this syndrome are anxiety and/or stress, dysfunction of the brainstem neuronal, and impairments in calcium signaling.

There are symptoms to EHS, some of the symptoms include; a loud perception of sound just before falling asleep, anxiety, difficulty of breathing, and rapid heart rate.


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