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Neurology. 2006 Jan 24;66(2):198-201.

Analgesic overuse among adolescents with headache: the Head-HUNT-Youth Study.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.



To examine the association between the use of analgesics and primary headache disorders (i.e., migraine and tension-type headache) among adolescents in relation to age, gender, and headache frequency.


This cross-sectional, population-based study was conducted in Norway from 1995 to 1997. The total study population consisted of 5,471 adolescents, 13 to 18 years of age, who were interviewed about their headache complaints and completed a comprehensive questionnaire including use of analgesics.


The prevalence of daily headache associated with analgesic use was 0.5%, with a higher rate for girls (0.8%) than for boys (0.2%). There was a significant association for both genders between analgesic use and headache, although most pronounced for migraine. There was a significant linear relationship between analgesic use and headache frequency. Analgesic use was more common among girls than boys and increased with age both for those with and those without headache.


The use of analgesics is common among adolescents with headache, especially among girls. Although this study did not directly evaluate for medication-overuse headache, the trend of frequent analgesic use suggests this possibility. Parents and physicians should increase their awareness of potential analgesic overuse, especially among adolescents with frequent headache.

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