Crystal's analysis honed in on the possibility that headaches might be one more health byproduct of 9/11 exposures. She said many people who had come in with respiratory woes were also complaining of headaches.
Investigating further, Crystal interviewed 765 people who had experienced some degree exposure to 9/11 dust and fumes. All were enrolled at Bellevue's WTC Environmental Health Center as of December 2008. They were asked to note the specific nature of their WTC disaster exposure and to catalogue their incidence of headache or other medical issues.
From this group, 43 percent said they had suffered from headaches in the four weeks before seeking care at the center. None reported having had routine headaches before 9/11.
Those who had headaches were also found to be more likely to experience wheezing, breathlessness when exercising, nasal drip or sinus congestion and reflux disease. Headache incidence also appeared to be slightly more common among the nearly 55 percent of people directly exposed to the initial WTC dust cloud, suggesting that the larger the exposure, the larger the risk for headaches. There were no differences by gender.
Both Crystal and Reibman stressed that more research is needed, but they also said they believed the findings could point to chronic headache as yet another long-term medical consequences of 9/11.
"The preliminary data does suggest that we should widen the clinical symptoms that we're looking at in this population and maybe question patients more about headaches and links to other symptoms," Reibman
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