Headache in Adolescence: Characteristics and Prevalence of an Urban Portuguese Population
Introduction: Headache is a frequent complaint among children and adolescents. Its prevalence is still poorly described in this Portuguese population. The most frequent primary headache disorders are migraine and tension-type headache. The authors aimed to characterise and to determine the prevalence in a three months period of headache among adolescents in a Portuguese urban county.
Methods: Population-based cross-sectional study with data collected through anonymous questionnaire to an adolescent sample attending the third cycle of basic education. The questionnaire was compiled using the International Headache Society diagnostic criteria.
Results: A total of 2123 valid questionnaires were obtained. The three months headache prevalence was 74.5%, higher among female adolescents (boys 63.9%, girls 84.6%). Recurrent headache (more than one episode in three months) prevalence was 49.7% and frequent recurrent headache (14 or more episodes in three months) prevalence was 6.2%. Using a visual analog scale from 0-10 points, the average intensity was 4.64 points (boys 4.47, girls 4.77) and 12.4% (boys 9.3%, girls 15.3%) of all adolescents reported severe intensity pain (≥ 7 points). According to the International Headache Society diagnostic criteria 5.4% (boys 4.3%, girls 6.4%) students reported headache that fulfilled migraine criteria and 7.6% (boys 8.3%, girls 7.0%) tension-type headache criteria.
Among female adolescents, significant association was detected (p < 0.05) between the increasing age and the prevalence of three months headache as well as headache that fulfilled migraine criteria.
Discussion: This study shows the high prevalence of headache among the studied adolescents supporting the need for greater awareness of this clinical entity.
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