What is the prevalence of tension headaches?

Updated: Nov 21, 2017
  • Author: Michelle Blanda, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

Headaches account for 1-4% of all emergency department (ED) visits and are in the top most common reasons for a patient to consult a physician. Tension-type headaches (TTH) are common, with a lifetime prevalence in the general population ranging between 30% and 78% in different studies. They affect approximately 1.4 billion people or 20.8% of the population. [7, 8] Of concern is that in 2010, opioids were administered in 35% of ED visits for headache compared to triptans, which were given in only 1.5% of visits. [9]

TTH onset often occurs during the teenage years and affects three women to every two men. Previous studies in the United States had show that tension type headaches peaked in the fourth decade. However, European studies show that these headaches persist occurring even into the 6th decade of life. [10]


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