Headaches in the elderly

Richard B. Lipton, Deborah Pfeffer, Lawrence C. Newman, Seymour Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Headache prevalence and etiology vary dramatically with age. The prevalence of primary headache disorders, such as migraine and cluster, declines with age, while the prevalence of secondary headache disorders, such as temporal arteritis and mass lesions, increases. In evaluating elderly patients with new onset of headache, a high index of suspicion for organic disease is required. Headache symptomatology also varies with age. For example, migraine may evolve into a pattern of chronic daily headache, or auras may occur in the absence of headache (late-life migraine accompaniments). A careful longitudinal headache history is therefore important. Headache management is also influenced by age. Elderly people are more susceptible to medication side effects and are often treated with several drugs. Medications may cause headaches and drug interactions may complicate therapy. For these reasons, age of onset and duration of illness are critical headache features that guide the subsequent approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1993


  • Headache
  • elderly
  • etiologies
  • presentation
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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