We once had an old male patient admitted to our charitable hospital. He was a happy looking guy, absolutely balanced, calm and his initial introduction with me somehow told me that he was an extremely cheerful guy. The only issue he was facing was that before falling asleep he used to hear an exploding bomb sound in his ears. We gave him several therapies, but none worked. Every night he would hear the same bombing sounds. This ultimately lead to a completely disturbed sleep. He was diagnosed with a rare disease called exploding head syndrome.
Once a rare phenomenon, exploding head syndrome is becoming common these days. Have you ever heard a loud bang or a bomb explosion inside your head? Then yes, you are having this exploding head syndrome. It is not like any other headache, because generally it does not include any pain.
It is a basically an event of parasomnia which involves unwanted events that occur along with sleep. Exploding head causes a loud noise that you suddenly hear just before you fall asleep. It seems like a violent explosion that has gone off in the head. It can also happen when you wake up in the middle of the night.
It may often start like a less alarming sound. An event like this can cause a high level of anxiety and fear. Many people fear that they have undergone a stroke attack. The number of attacks may vary from person to person. They can happen once in a blue moon or even many times in one night. Having several episodes is really a disturbing issue.. Some people have continuous attacks for several nights and months.
Sometimes a flash of light might be seen along with the sound. A muscle jerk may also occur. The event is generally painless, but few cases with short bouts of extreme pain have been reported.
Why this Happens
Scientists and researchers have not been able to unearth why this actually happens. They have linked it to sleep because it happens just before sleep. They have linked it to stress, and have suggested anti stress therapy like yoga and meditation for this. Believe me, I did all the research for this person, and nothing gave him any improvement. Even after 15 days of constant therapy we could not get any relief.
Breaking the Ice
What happens generally in a hospital is that the doctor takes round, observes, takes notes, changes medicines and the patient is left with the paramedics for care. Sometimes the patient doesn’t even interact with the doctor. The communication gap might be an issue from each side. In this case since the patient did not get any relief, it became a challenge for us to help him out. We knew that we were missing some point.
I started taking the patient for evening walks where we would discuss regarding just anything; from politics to arts, from economics to latest inventions. In our conversation I found that the gentleman had retired and was not earning anything presently. He was having three daughters of marriageable age, but were still studying. Since he was very honest at work, and had been in simple desk job, he had not been able to gather much money for his retired life and marriage of his daughters. The situation was complex for him, and was giving him a stress which only he was bearing. Silently it was killing him every day and every night. Though he mentioned this very faintly to me, but I grabbed the importance of the situation and its relation with the onset of his disease. Now I knew exactly what to do.
The treatment and the Success
I am a very impatient doctor. Once I understand a disease, I just want to get rid of it. When I was a kid, I used to fall sick every now and then. Nobody would understand the levels of distress I went through when having fever, or pain of issue of any kind. So whenever a patient comes in front of me, I want to cure him as fast as possible. After his family situation was understood by me, apart from counseling I took to a small surgical procedure.
I discussed with him that how times have now changed and girls today are becoming self sufficient. His girls were good in studies, and with proper guidance, a time will come when they will start supporting their parents. We should not worry about a future that does not exist, rather enjoy the good time with family which almighty has bestowed upon us.
It’s a classical Ayurveda treatment where a leech is applied to the diseased part of body. The leech then sucks impure blood from body, painlessly, ultimately to drop away when the impure blood is gone. Lord Dhanvantari, the Demi God of Ayurveda, who came out of ‘’Samudramanthana’’ was having Shankha (conch), Chakra (disc), Jalauka (leech) and Amrita (ambrosia) in his hands. Treatment with leech was common since ancient times in India. The practice diminished since foreign concepts of medicine swept away even the most practical procedures commonly used. Leech therapy is used in management of various diseases, mainly ENT and Head, varicose veins and many others.
In this case leech was applied to the temporal region of forehead. The treatment was continued for seven days, on each side of the head, alternatively for seven days. The treatment was successful from the very first day. The exploding sound in his head was gone. We made sure that we don’t use the same leech again. Also that post to application of leech, the wound area is properly closed and there is no extra blood oozing out of it. Everyday 2-3 ml blood was taken out with the help of leech. This is a completely painless procedure. On the seventh day the patient asked whether he could borrow some leeches for home. I told him that the disease is not going to return. Leeches of a particular species are only used for this procedure, since some leeches might be poisonous. Further observation and research is required to properly document the beneficial effects of leech therapy in the condition of exploding head syndrome.