Objectives.—To perform a prospective epidemiological study of headache in a rural community in Oman, assessing prevalence, symptom profile, and health care utilization pattern.
Methods.—Using a door-to-door survey prevalence estimates were based on a detailed structured headache assessment questionnaire performed in 1158 subjects. Migraine and tension-type headache were diagnosed according to the International Headache Society criteria.
Results.—The crude lifetime and last-year prevalence of headache were 83.6% and 78.8%, respectively, with a female preponderance. The last-year prevalence of migraine and tension headache was 10.1% and 11.2%, respectively. There was no significant gender difference in migraine prevalence (4.5% in male and 5.6% in female), but tension-type headache was 2.6 times more common in females (3.1% in male and 8.1% in female). Last-year prevalence of frequent headaches was 5.4%. Forty eight percent of respondents sought medical assistance for their headaches and 79% were using medication, 40% of them used self-medication.
Conclusions.—This prospective study shows that headache is also highly prevalent in this community. Migraine and tension-type headache have the same prevalence, but the sex distribution for migraine is different from that observed in the Western world. Tension-type headache prevalence was substantially lower than that observed in other parts of the world. Frequent headaches were as common as in other population-based studies worldwide. Analgesic use/overuse probably also coexisted with headache, because self-medication was quite common.