• headache;
  • migraine;
  • epidemiology;
  • Malaysia

This community study on headache in Malaysia was based on IHS diagnostic criteria and showed the last-year prevalence of migraine was 9.0%. Migraine with aura accounted for only 10.6% of the migrainous population. The last-year prevalence of tension headache was 26.5% (94.4% episodic, 5.6% chronic) and 28.2% for other types of headache. No case of cluster headache was found. Almost two thirds of the migraine subjects graded their headaches as severe, while almost 60% of the tension headache subjects and almost 70% of the other headache subjects graded their headaches as mild.

Overall, there was higher prevalence in females for migraine and tension headache, and in males for the other types of headache. The prevalence of headache was lower among those younger than 15 and older than 65 years of age. No significant differences were found in the prevalence of headache among the different racial groups nor among the urban versus the rural population.

All the headache types shared the same triggering factors suggesting that different physiological characteristics are responsible for the type of pain suffered. In the location of this community with its tropical climate, headache was attributed to sun exposure in 51.9% of the migraine subjects, 55.7% of the tension headache subjects, and 36.6% of the group with other headaches.