Headache attributed to aeroplane travel: the first multicentric survey in a paediatric population affected by primary headaches

Debora De Carlo, Irene Toldo, Agnese Maria Tamborino, Barbara Bolzonella, Maria Giuseppina Ledda, Lucia Margari, Vincenzo Raieli, Margherita Santucci, Vittorio Sciruicchio, Angelo Vecchio, Sergio Zanini, Stefano Sartori, Michela Gatta, Alberto Verrotti, Pier Antonio Battistella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: This multicentric survey investigates the prevalence and characteristics of Airplane Headache in children affected by primary headaches. METHODS: Patients with symptoms of Airplane Headache were recruited from nine Italian Pediatric Headache Centres. Each patient was handed a structured questionnaire which met the ICHD-III criteria. RESULTS: Among 320 children suffering from primary headaches who had flights during their lifetime, 15 (4.7%) had Airplane Headache, with mean age of 12.4 years. Most of the patients were females (80%). The headache was predominantly bilateral (80%) and localized to the frontal area (60%); it was mainly pulsating, and lasted less than 30 min in all cases. Accompanying symptoms were tearing, photophobia, phonophobia in most of the cases (73.3%). More than 30% of patients used medications to treat the attacks, with good results. CONCLUSION: Our study shows that Airplane Headache is not a rare disorder in children affected by primary headaches and highlights that its features in children are peculiar and differ from those described in adults. In children Airplane Headache prevails in females, is more often bilateral, has frequently accompanying symptoms and occurs at any time during the flight. Further studies are needed to confirm the actual frequency of Airplane Headache in the general pediatric population not selected from specialized Headache Centres, with and without other concomitant headache condition, and to better clarify the clinical characteristics, pathophysiology and potential therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Number of pages6
JournalThe journal of headache and pain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 14 2018


  • Aeroplane travel
  • Airplane
  • Children
  • Headache
  • Pediatric headache
  • Primary headaches

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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