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Drug-associated headache is unrecognized in patients treated at a neurological centre

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Objective– We studied the frequency of unrecognized headache associated with overuse of analgesic drugs in a population of headache patients treated at a neurological centre. Methods– Patients in North Norway referred to a neurologist for headache during a 2-year period completed a questionnaire. From a total of 945, 262 patients (28%) reported headache 3 days or more per week and used analgesic drugs on a daily bases. Results– A specific diagnoses given by the neurologist was reported in 134 of the patients (51%). Only two patients reported that they suffered from a possible drug-associated headache. Conclusion– This study shows that drug overuse may be the cause of chronic headache in more than 1/4 patients referred to neurologists. Drug-associated headache is a difficult diagnosis which deserves more attention because it is a common and treatable condition.

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Keywords: analgesics; drug-induced headache; epidemiology; headache; medication; specialist consultation

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, Tromsø University Hospital, Tromsø, Norway, 2: Department of Neurology, Nordland Central Hospital, Bodø, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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