Friday, July 03, 2009

Add Headache to Dangers of Space Exploration

Astronauts need to add space headache to their list of occupational hazards, say researchers.

After quizzing 17 seasoned astronauts they found more than two-thirds suffered from headaches on missions yet were headache free back on earth.

The disabling headaches appeared unique - described by the crew as "exploding" - and were generally unrelated to common space motion sickness.

The Dutch investigators work is published in the journal Cephalalgia.

They propose space headache should be classified as a separate entity in its own right.

In the past, experts have thought all headaches in space are a symptom of motion sickness, which is caused by disorientation due to the absence of gravity and plagued the Apollo program.

More than three-quarters of the 21 headaches documented by 12 of the astronauts in the latest study had none of the associated main symptoms of space motion sickness, such as nausea, vomiting or vertigo.

Nine of the headaches were triggered during launch, nine during the stay at the space station, one during activities outside the space station and two during landing.

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