• diver;
  • chronic daily headache;
  • prevalence;
  • medication overuse

Objective.— The object of this study is to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of headache in Korean professional women breath-hold divers, including their overuse of analgesics.

Background.— Headache is a common problem encountered in clinical practice, and undersea divers exhibit unique causes of headache in addition to other common primary headaches. Many scuba divers are known to use various types of drugs to overcome dive-related symptoms or to enhance their underwater performance.

Methods.— The target population of this study was women divers in the northern district of Jeju Island who were registered in the divers’ union. Data were collected using telephone interviews with a structured questionnaire. Headache was diagnosed and classified according to criteria of the International Headache Society.

Results.— Nine hundred and eleven (80.3%) divers responded to the telephone interview. The prevalence rates of headache were 21.4% for tension-type headache and 9.1% for migraine. One hundred and four divers (11.4%) fulfilled the criteria for chronic daily headache (CDH). Overuse of combination analgesics was reported by 70.7% of divers. Women divers with CDH were significantly older and they complained more of tinnitus and dizziness, and had a greater history of hypertension than divers without headache.

Conclusion.— The prevalence of CDH is high in Korean professional women breath-hold divers, with many of them being combination-analgesics overusers.