Headache and facial pain in scuba divers

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2004 Aug;8(4):315-20. doi: 10.1007/s11916-004-0015-y.


Headache occasionally occurs during or after scuba diving. Although its significance often is benign, headache may signal a serious neurological disorder in some circumstances. In addition to the usual causes of headache, the diagnostic evaluation should consider otic and paranasal sinus barotrauma, arterial gas embolism, decompression sickness, carbon dioxide retention, carbon monoxide toxicity, hyperbaric-triggered migraine, cervical and temporomandibular joint strain, supraorbital neuralgia, carotid artery dissection, and exertional and cold stimulus headache syndromes. Focal neurologic symptoms, even in the migraineur, should not be ignored, but rather treated with 100% oxygen acutely and referred without delay to a facility with a hyperbaric chamber.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Barotrauma / complications
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning / complications
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Diving / injuries*
  • Facial Pain / etiology*
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / complications