Researchers at University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil interviewed 344 randomly selected, university, social communication students to determine the 1-year prevalence of headache, types of headache, and the effects on academic performance. The mean age was 23.4 years; 57.3% were women. Headache prevalence was 87.2% (migraine 48.5%, tension-type 42.4%). In the 3 months before the interview, 8.7% sought emergency services because of headaches, 30.8% missed classes, 30.8% were less productive, 75.6% used analgesics, 1.5% reported analgesic overuse, and headache had a substantial/severe impact on daily activities in 49%. Multiple linear regressions showed that serious-impact headaches are significantly related to a greater number of subject failures and absenteeism, and are associated with worse academic performance. Neither anxiety (in 43.9% students) nor depression (in 18.9%) had a significant effect on grade point average. No headache variables were associated with the grade point average coefficient, whereas individuals who consumed alcohol (52.3%) had a smaller grade point average. [1]

COMMENT. Headaches in 50% of university students are severe and may be associated with poorer academic performance. Migraine prophylaxis and reduction of impact of headache severity on social and cognitive functioning might be expected to benefit academic performance. However, data from controlled studies of drugs frequently prescribed for migraine prophylaxis (amitryptiline, valproate, topiramate, and levetiracetam) are insufficient for appraisal [2]. Headache is not correlated with grade point average, whereas alcohol consumption has a significant association with a lower grade point average, and the risk of failure increases with the quantity of alcohol consumed. [3]