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Neuroscience For Kids

Flying Can Give You A Headache
October 17, 2008

Flying can be a real pain. And it is not just the waiting, the long lines, lost luggage and bad food. Just traveling by airplane gives many people a headache.

This is the conclusion of Dr. Israel Potasman and his colleagues at B'nai Zion Medical Center (Haifa, Israel) who gave questionnaires to air travelers to find out how many people suffer from headaches while flying. Of 906 people who traveled by plane more than once, 52 (5.7%) people said that they suffered from headaches during a flight or soon after.

For 10 of the 52 (19.2%) people with flight-associated headaches, pain appeared during every flight they took. About half of the people said their headaches were on one side only and the other half said their headaches occurred on both sides. Headaches often started when the plane landed (50%) and took off (45.2%); two people (4.8%) said their headaches started during both take off and landing.

The researchers propose several possible causes for flight-associated headaches:

It may appear that few travelers (only 5.7%) suffer from flight-associated headaches. The researchers, however, point out that if you assume that 70% of the 3.3 billion airplane seats available each year are occupied, then there are millions of people who get headaches when they fly!

References and further information:

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