February 25, 2014: Airplane Headache

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February 25, 2014

Airplane headache is a severe, unilateral pain that typically has an orbitofrontal location and is caused by airplane travel. The pain is often described as jabbing or stabbing although pulsation has also been described. It starts suddenly coming to crescendo in a few seconds and abates within 30 minutes in most people. This type of headache manifests itself during landing in 85% of patients. About half of patients with airplane headache have other primary headache diagnoses such as migraine or tension-type headache.


  1. Mainardi F, Lisotto C, Maggioni F and Zanchin G. Headache attributed to airplane travel ('Airplane headache'). Clinical profile based on a large case series. Cephalalgia 2012; 32: 592-599
  2. Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society (IHS): The International Classification of Headache Disorders, 3 rd Edition. (beta version). Cephalalgia 2013; 33 629-808.

Submitted by Justin DeLange, DO, Headache Fellow, Dept. of Neurology, Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN

Disclosures: Dr. DeLange reports no disclosures.

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