08 August 2006

Headache defined

How common are headaches? And who tends to get them?

Almost everyone suffers from a headache from time to time. Most headaches are infrequent and transient annoyances that disappear with the help of an analgesic or other pain killer. But for one person in ten, a headache is an excruciating experience that might herald some serious disorder.

About 15% of the population have headaches severe or frequent enough to consult a doctor. In fact, headache is the most common cause of pain that prompts patients to consult their GP. Even children get headaches, some well before the age of ten. Before puberty, headaches are more common in boys.

In adults, headaches are four times more prevalent in women and often linked to hormonal fluctuations. In both sexes the frequency and severity of headaches decline with advancing years.

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