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Posted by Paco ( on February 10, 2002 at 17:02:36:

Time Zone Change May Worsen Rare Headache Disorder

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jan 22 - A Portuguese woman's transatlantic travels may reveal clues
about hypnic headache, a rare nocturnal condition that generally begins late in life and awakens patients
several nights a week with severe headache.

While the cause is not fully understood, Dr. Isabel Pavao Martins of the Centro de Estudos Egas Moniz in
Lisbon and colleague R. G. Gouveia note that hypnic headache is believed to be associated with
reduced melatonin secretion and tends to be more common in the elderly.

In a recent issue of the journal Cephalalgia, Dr. Martins and Gouveia describe the case of a 68-year-old
woman with hypnic headache that was aggravated by a transatlantic trip, but improved upon her return

Lithium treatment drastically reduced the woman's headaches, which had been routinely waking her up
between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. But during a transatlantic flight from her home in Portugal to Brazil
a difference of three time zones she experienced a relapse. During the 10-day trip, she developed a
headache every day, again between 3:00 AM and 4:00 AM local time.

When the woman returned home, her symptoms disappeared. A relapse, which occurred 3 months after
her trip, was successfully treated with lithium.

"The paper...shows that certain headaches may change with long distance travel, with crossing of time
zones, [and] it reinforces the hypothesis that hypnic headache is related to a change of the circadian
rhythm," Dr. Martins told Reuters Health.

Cephalalgia 2001;21:928-931.

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