In the News

Going Away… Gives Me A Headache!

Shareen Ashraf

12th March 2017

I thought it was a little too soon to be thinking about the summer but then planning is the way forward…at least that is what I’ve been told!

Many of us experience headaches during our flights abroad - a study conducted at Aalborg University revealed how one in twelve people experience painful headaches during flight. However, new research has identified the reason for this.

Some individuals may experience ‘high altitude sickness’ which usually occurs when flying over 3,000 meters above sea level, resulting in a severe headache. The cause is hypoxia (a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching body tissues), but the underlying physiological process is a complex mixture of different factors.

Petersen and Bui conducted a study whereby participants were placed in a pressure chamber which simulated the pressure changes during a flight. During this, they took saliva samples to measure the levels of PGE2 and levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Both were present in those suffering from headaches when flying. While the problem has been identified, work is now in progress to find a develop a suitable cure.

Shareen Ashraf

Shareen is a part-time psychology teacher for a Sixth Form Academy in Birmingham. Shareen is interested in sharing her passion of psychology with students and teachers and also works as an examiner and freelance psychology writer.

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