Prevalence and clinical characteristics of headache in adolescents: a Croatian epidemiological study.Cephalalgia. 2014 Apr; 34(4):289-97.C
Headaches are often under-diagnosed in adolescents. The aim of this study was to examine the one-year prevalence of primary headaches among high school students in the city of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.
This was a population-based, cross-sectional study. A total of 2350 questionnaires consisting of questions on demographic data, the presence and clinical characteristics of headaches were distributed among students in eight high schools; 2057 (87.5%) questionnaires were eligible for analysis.
The mean age of the students was 17.2 ± 1.2 years; 50.2% were female. The prevalence of recurrent headache was 30.1% (620/2057), girls 35.1%, boys 25.2%. Among students with headache, 291 (46.9%) had migraine, and 329 (53.1%) had tension-type headaches (TTHs). The mean frequency of headaches was 5.66 per month in girls and 4.42 in boys; mean duration of a headache attack was 8.94 hours in girls and 8.37 hours in boys (NS). Unilateral headache was present in 31.6%, throbbing quality in 22.6%, dull in 34.4% of students; 22.4% had severe intensity and 70.3% moderate. Nausea was present in 4.0% always and in 14.7% frequently (girls 18.8%), photophobia in 41.3%, phonophobia in 63.2%, osmophobia in 23.9% (NS among genders). Almost 30% of students were disabled and stayed at home, more frequently boys. Girls (33.4%) were more likely to take drugs for every attack; number per month was 3.7. The results of this study showed that the prevalence of migraine among adolescents in Croatia was 16.5% for girls and 11.8% for boys; the prevalence of TTH was 18.4% for girls and 13.4% for boys.
The prevalence of self-reported headache among high school students in Zagreb is relatively high. Significant gender differences in frequency and clinical characteristics were observed. Primary headaches among adolescents are an important public health problem and should receive more attention from school and health authorities.