Prevalence and clinical characteristics of headache in dental students of a tertiary care teaching dental hospital in Northern India

Ruchika Nandha, Mahinder K. Chhabra


Background: Chronic headache is as much as a problem in India as elsewhere in the world with a rising trend in young adults which negatively affects the quality of life of the affected person. In current scenario of increasing prevalence of headache in students, most of them have been found to practice self medication leading to inappropriate management and sometimes analgesic overuse causing treatment refractoriness.

Methods: A questionnaire based survey was done on undergraduate dental students at a tertiary care dental teaching hospital in Northern India. Severity of headache was assessed by Numeric Rating Scale. Data collected was analyzed to assess the prevalence, pattern & triggering factors of headache along with awareness of dental students regarding treatment. Prevalence and characteristics of migraine were also assessed along with the therapeutic strategies opted by students.

Results: Our study (n=186) demonstrated headache prevalence of 63.9% which was higher in females (74.3%) as compared to males (32.6%). Headache experienced by majority of student population was bilateral (36.13%), sharp stabbing   (38.65%) and of moderate intensity (57.98%). Common associated symptoms were nausea/ vomiting (24.36%) and scalp tenderness (22.68%). Stress (82.3%) &irregular sleep (81.5%) were the most common triggering factors. Prevalence of migraine was 13.44% with female preponderance (87.5%). Practice of self medication was reported by 88.2% of students. Most commonly used drugs were paracetamol (36.76%), aspirin (26.47%) and combination of ibuprofen and paracetamol (25%). Specific medication use in migraineurs was found to be low (25%) showing inadequate management of migraine headache in our study population.

Conclusions: The results in this study demonstrate high headache prevalence in dental students with self medication being practiced by the majority.


Headache, Migraine, Prevalence

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