Scuba diving is not associated with high prevalence of headache: A cross-sectional study in men

Roberto Di Fabio, Nicola Vanacore, Chiara Davassi, Mariano Serrao, Francesco Pierelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To study the prevalence of cephalalgia in male divers. Background. Scuba divers work in stressing environments and have a high cerebrovascular risk, both conditions which are supposed to contribute to the genesis of cephalalgia. However, no study assessed expressly the prevalence of cephalalgia in divers, to date. Methods. We enrolled 201 professional male scuba divers (41.0 ± 7.2 years) and controls (41.1 ± 7.2 years), and the risk ratio and its corresponding 95% confidence of suffering from cephalalgia was calculated. Results. We found that 16% of divers and 22% of matched controls were affected by cephalalgia (P >.05), accounting for a risk ratio of 0.71 (95% CI 0.47-1.07). Divers reported fewer attacks per month (1.8 ± 0.7, n = 32) with regard to controls (2.5 ± 1.8, n = 45) (P =.02), but no differences concerning age at onset and severity were detected (P >.05). Divers suffered from migraine, migraine with aura and tension headache as much as controls. Conclusion. Scuba diving, an intense physical activity characterized by cerebral micro-vascular distress, is not associated with cephalalgia, as a whole, or migraine, tension headache or migraine with aura, more commonly than in a matched, non-diving, population. A longitudinal study may disclose if diving may act as a protective factor in the occurrence of crises of cephalalgia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • aura
  • cephalalgia
  • diving
  • headache
  • migraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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