Though it’s a common ailment headaches can vary in severity, from a minor nuisance to debilitating and very painful. An “splitting headache” usually refers to severe headache. This isn’t an official word used in medicine, it is it is a typical description of a particular nature or type of headache which may have one of a variety of underlying causes.

When suffering from a migraine someone may have difficulty engaging in their day-to-day routines whether it’s at work, home, or at school.

This article will discuss the signs, causes and the treatment for split headache. It will also address how your headache might be an indication of something more serious and requires urgent medical treatment.

Signs of a Splitting Headache

A headache that is split can be felt on both sides the head or may be confined to a specific area, such as the temple, the back to the forehead, or the face. Based on the root of the headache that splits the symptoms can be described in a variety of ways, for example, stabbing, throbbing or piercing and so on.

In addition, there are a number of distinct symptoms that could be present in a split headache. Some of them are:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to sound, light, or the smell
  • Acne flushing and sweating
  • Eye redness and tear
  • Stuffy nose
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Neurological disorders, for example the weakness or numbness that occurs on the opposite or both sides of the body
  • A stiff neck and a fever

The causes of splitting Headache

A split headache can be classified as a second or primary headache.

Primary Headaches vs. Secondary Headaches

Primary headaches can develop in their own way, while secondary headaches can be the result of a health problem, like an underlying illness, pregnancy, or a medication.

Headache disorders primary that can cause head pain that splits can include:

  • Migraine headaches typically occur on the opposite face. They they are usually aggravated by physical activity. They can also cause an aura (reversible sensory, visual, or speech disorders). Migraine headaches cause throbbing, and vary in intensity from moderate to severe.
  • Cluster headachesare serious headaches with one side, typically stabbing or sharp in the sense of stabbing or sharpness. The pain is usually concentrated around or around the temple or the eye. The headaches are characterized by attacks lasting from up to 180 mins as often as eight times a day.

There are a variety of secondary reasons for splitting headaches.

One cause of concern is a life-threatening condition known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage. This is a form of brain bleed that occurs when blood clots up in the brain’s space as well as the skull.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage may result in a thunderclap headache. It’s an intense extreme headache that appears abruptly. It quickly increases in intensity in a matter of seconds or in a matter of minutes. It’s sometimes described by the name of “worst headache you’ve ever had.”

Other serious issues that could cause a headache that is thunderclap-like are:

  • Cervical artery dissection – Tear in the wall of one of two neckarteries, the vertebral or carotid artery or the vertebral artery.
  • Pituitary Aplexy: Bleeding into or reduction of pituitary hormones that is located deep within the brain
  • Stroke occurs when the flow of blood into the brain disrupted
  • Reversible vasoconstriction syndrome in the brain: The blood vessels in the brain suddenly become narrow
  • Hypertension in the intracranial artery that is spontaneous A low spinal fluid pressure within the brain
  • Cerebral Venous Thrombosis: A blood clot is found within the brain’s vein

Thunderclap Headache is a Medical emergency

If you’re experiencing the sound of a thunderclap you should call 911 or seek urgent medical treatment.

Some other health issues that can cause a split headache include:

  • Meningitis is an inflammation in the tissue that protect the spinal cord and brain. It could be accompanied by stiff neck, fever, as well as sensitivity to light in addition to other signs.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: This uncommon condition is caused by an irritation of or compression on the trigeminal neuromusculature (your 5th cranial nerve). It can cause severe piercing or painful stabbing in one area of your face.
  • Giant cell arthritis (GCA) GCA is the most frequent type of vasculitis (blood vessels inflammation) which affects people who are over 50. The condition causes severe headaches that is usually located around the temples. Tenderness in the jaw and jaw pain (pain during chewing) and loss of vision can also be present.

How to Handle the Splitting Headache

The treatment of a split headache requires addressing the root reason. For instance, getting relief from a headache that is split diagnosed as migraine generally requires a variety of over-the counter or prescription medication to ease the pain.

The medicines used in the treatment of migraines in an acute manner are:

  • A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen)
  • Imitrex (sumatriptan) The drugs affect serotonin (a brain chemical) docking sites within the brain, to reduce the effects of a migraine. They are available in a variety of formulations that include nasal sprays, tablets and injections.
  • A combination NSAID/triptan drug, like Treximet (sumatriptan/naproxen)
  • Reyvow (lasmiditan) Lasmiditan targets serotonin, but it does not cause blood vessels to narrow (which triptans cause).
  • A calcitonin gene-related protein (CGRP) inhibitor like Nurtec ODT (rimegepant) or Ubrelvy (ubrogepant)

Along with medications for migraine, headaches may be eased by laying down in a quiet, dark space, and putting an ice pack or compress over the area of head discomfort.

Migraine Prevention

If you are suffering from frequent or long-lasting migraine headaches, or the migraine attacks affect your life quality it is possible that you are an ideal potential candidate for preventive migraine treatments.

This includes:

Treatment for other causes of a split headache can be categorized as follows:

Life-threatening secondary headaches that could be a risk, such as headaches that can be life-threatening, such as bleeding of the brain or meningitis need hospital treatment with close monitoring, intravenous (IV) medication or surgery.

Complications Related to the Splitting Headache

Based on the primary diagnosis, a variety of complications could be caused by a split headache.

For instance, two of the rare problems associated with migraine are:

Ailments that result from an untreated, dangerous “splitting headache” such as a thunderclap-type headache can result in permanent neurological impairments (e.g. feeling loss or weakness to one body part) seizures and even the death.

Are there tests to determine the cause of a splitting Headache?

A diagnosis for your split headache as a migraine generally will require a medical history as well as neurological exam.

Diagnostic tests, such as imaging or other tests aren’t usually required unless the neurological examination is abnormal, and/or an underlying cluster headache or second headache may be suspected.

One of these tests might comprise:

When should I see a Health Professional

A headache that is split and fresh or is associated with worrying symptoms should prompt urgent or immediate medical attention.

Make sure you consult your physician in the following circumstances:

  • The headaches you experience are happening more often or interfere with your routine.
  • If you suffer from headaches, there is an history of cancer or a compromised immunity (e.g. the HIV). (HIV).
  • If you’re experiencing a headache that’s new or changes in your headache patterns and you are post-partum or pregnant.
  • If you are 65 years old or older and you are suffering from an entirely new kind of headache.
  • Your headache is caused when you cough, sneeze, or working out.
  • If you’re experiencing headaches with a rebound due to taking pain medications regularly.

Get Medical attention immediately

Take your family to the nearest emergency room if you’re suffering from headaches:

  • The condition is serious, occurs abruptly, and/or is the “worst nightmare in your entire life”
  • The condition is often severe and is it is accompanied by a eyes, high-fever weak neck, fainting or confusion
  • It is often accompanied by symptoms of stroke like weakness, numbness or changes in vision
  • This can occur following head traumas


There are numerous possible causes for an “splitting” (or severe) headache. One of the most frequent causes is migraine or chronic headache that gets worse by movement. A split headache can be a sign the presence of cluster headaches or an indication that something is happening within the body, like an infection in the brain or stroke.

To determine the root of your splitting headache, your doctor might order a variety of diagnostic tests like an examination of your brain. Treatment is based on the root diagnosis, but typically will require taking a medication or (very seldom) having a medical procedure such as surgery.

The Word from Verywell

Finding out the cause and the “why” that causes your split headaches can be a challenge and requires a lot of investigation by both you and your physician. While you wait taking part in healthy lifestyle habits such as establishing a regular sleep schedule, working out regularly, and drinking plenty of water will go a long way to keep headaches at lower levels.

Frequently Answered Questions

  • There are many possible reasons. Most often, headaches that split can be migraine-related. The pain of a migraine can be which is aggravated by regular motions, and can be associated with nausea, vomiting as well as light, sound and smell sensitivities.

  • Possibly. A headache associated with COVID-19 was described as pressing or pulsating with moderate to severe intensity, and affecting each side of your head.

  • Treatment is contingent on the underlying causes. For instance, a sprained headache that’s migraine-related can be treated using an over-the-counter or prescription medication, and with taking a nap in a dark, cool room.