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The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

The Journal of Headache and Pain Cover Image

Volume 16 Supplement 1

1st Joint ANIRCEF-SISC Congress

Open Access

O037. Should aircrafts never land? Headache attributed to aeroplane travel: a new series of 140 patients

  • Federico Mainardi1Email author,
  • Ferdinando Maggioni2,
  • Carlo Lisotto3 and
  • Giorgio Zanchin2
The Journal of Headache and Pain201516(Suppl 1):A166

Published: 28 September 2015


Public HealthInternal MedicineInformed ConsentSpecific HeadacheSevere Headache


Following our previously published paper on 75 cases [1], a new form of headache, Headache attributed to aeroplane travel (AH), has been recently codified in the ICHD-3beta classification [2].

Materials and methods

Since our publication, we continued to receive worldwide filled-in questionnaires.


Up to now, 140 cases (males: 59%) were studied. A strictly unilateral side was reported in 85% of patients; side-shift in different attacks was observed in 21%. The pain site was mainly frontal-orbital (n=110) or frontal-parietal (n=9). The mean age at onset was 35.9 years (range 7-63). AH attacks occurred during landing (in nine patients also during take-off), lasted less than 30 minutes and remitted spontaneously. Its intensity was very severe or severe. Only in 16 cases the first attack occurred during the first flight. The attacks presented in more than 50% of flights in 38 patients; 24 reported its occurrence during every flight. AH negatively affected the propensity to air travel in more than 75% of the sufferers. Prophylactic use of NSAIDs prevented or effectively relieved the attacks in more than 50% of cases.


Considering the impact of AH, passengers should be appropriately informed about the existence of this severe headache, on its benign nature and its potential prevention. These new data confirm the stereotyped features of this specific headache, in keeping with the ICHD criteria.

Written informed consent to publish was obtained from the patient(s).

Authors’ Affiliations

Headache Centre, Neurological Division, SS Giovanni e Paolo Hospital, Venice, Itay
Headache Centre, Department of Neurosciences, Padua University, Padua, Italy
Headache Centre, S. Vito al Tagliamento Hospital, S. Vito al Tagliamento, Italy


  1. Mainardi F, Lisotto C, Maggioni F, Zanchin G: Headache attributed to airplane travel (“Airplane headache”). Clinical profile based on a large case series. Cephalalgia. 2012, 32 (8): 592-599. 10.1177/0333102412441720.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS): The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3rd edition (beta version). Cephalalgia. 2013, 33 (9): 627-808. 10.1177/0333102413487610.View ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Mainardi et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


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