- Monday, February 1, 2010
- Epidemiological, clinical and pharmacological aspects of headache in a university undergraduate population in Palestine
- Published at:Cephalalgia
Headache is one of the most common complaints in clinical practice. Few studies regarding headache in university students have been conducted in the Middle East. The objective of this study was to explore the prevalence, clinical characteristics, triggering factors and treatment options of headaches in university undergraduate students in Palestine/ Middle East. Data were collected by interviewing a sample of 1900 students. The Headache Assessment Quiz was used to measure quality and severity of headache and to collect data on triggering factors and symptom management. A total of 1808 (95.2%) reported having at least one headache episode in the previous year. A positive family history of headache was found in 40% of students. The prevalence rate of frequent headache (two or more episodes/month) was found in 1096 (60.9%) students; 613 women (55.9%). Of those having frequent headaches, 228 (20.8%) experienced moderate to severe episodes, 341 (31.2%) had pulsating, throbbing and pounding pain, and 274 (25%) had unilateral pain. The most common triggering factors among students with frequent headaches were: tension/stress (78.2%) and sleep deprivation (75.4%). Less than 5% of students sought medical assistance during headache episodes. Most students (79.1%) reported self-therapy with a single analgesic (53.4%), herbs (10.2%) or combination (15.5%), while 20.9% reported using no medication of any type to decrease pain. Paracetamol (48.5%) followed by ibuprofen (4.9%) were the most commonly used non-prescription analgesic drugs. Headache is a prevalent symptom in the college age population. Further research is needed to determine the prevalence of specific types of headaches. Healthcare providers are required to educate this population as well as to assist students in properly diagnosing and treating headache types.