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Researchers call for new space headache category following astronauts' survey
Date:6/2/2009

Researchers are calling for space headache to be established as a new secondary disorder after carrying out a study of 17 astronauts, published in the June issue of Cephalalgia.

Their study jettisons the theory that astronauts' headaches are normally caused by space motion sickness, after showing that more than three-quarters of those studied had no connection.

"Our research shows that space flights may trigger headaches without other space motion sickness symptoms in otherwise super healthy subjects" says lead researcher Dr Alla Vein from Professor Michel Ferrari's Headache Research team at the Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.

"We propose to classify space headache as a separate entity among the secondary headaches attributed to disorders of homeostasis, which is the maintenance of a constant internal environment within the body."

The research team asked one female and 16 male astronauts, ranging from 28 to 58 years of age, to provide anonymous feedback on headaches experienced during four specific time frames - launch, the stay at the space station, activities outside the space station and landing.

All the astronauts had undergone rigorous medical examinations before they went into space. Nine has taken part in short-duration missions averaging just under 11 days and eight had taken part in long-duration missions averaging just under 202 days.

Key findings included:

  • 12 of the 17 astronauts (71 per cent) reported 21 headache episodes during the space missions nine during launch, nine during the stay at the space station, one during activities outside the space station and two during landing. None of the astronauts had a history of recurrent headache on earth.

  • Five astronauts reported headaches during one of the time frames, six during two time frames and one during four time frames.

  • Headache severity ranged
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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