Female healthcare workers more likely to get headaches from PPE than male counterparts, study finds

Female healthcare workers are more likely to get headaches from wearing personal protective equipment compared to male healthcare workers, a study published Nov. 13 in Brain and Behavior found. 

Researchers performed a cross-sectional study on 243 front-line workers at four hospitals in Tehran, Iran, between April and July 2020. Study authors noted 75 percent of participants were women.

Participants filled out a questionnaire answering demographic information, history of headaches and information regarding type of PPE worn during work. Blood oxygen saturation and heart rate were recorded via pulse oximeter before and 4 hours post PPE use, or if they reported shortness of breath or headache. 

Key findings: 

  • Prevalence of headaches following PPE usage was 72.4 percent.

  • Among participants reporting headaches, 25.1 percent developed external pressure; 22.2 percent developed migraines; and 15.2 percent developed tension-type headaches.

  • The N95 mask was the most commonly reported cause of headache (41 percent) while the prevalence of headache after using shields and goggles was 27.2 percent and 27.3 percent, respectively.

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