Spaceflight Can Be a Real Pain for Astronauts | 3/8/2018 | Staff
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Astronaut Chris Hadfield remembers the headaches in his five months of spaceflight on the International Space Station in 2012 and 2013. It was a constant pain in his sinuses, along with stuffiness. The Canadian astronaut blew his nose frequently to clear his head and used mild pain medication to help him keep up with his demanding spaceflight schedule.

"It gets better over time, but it never goes away," Hadfield, the station's Expedition 35 commander, recalled in an interview with Seeker. "It's just a natural effect of weightlessness. You're going to have a clogged head, which in a lot of people leads to a throbbing headache."

Hadfield - Report - Astronauts - AA - Vein

Hadfield's anecdotal report is typical of astronauts. A.A. Vein, the principal investigator of an ongoing study, which has not been completed or peer reviewed yet, told Seeker that 21 out of 24 astronauts — a whopping 87.5 percent — reported a headache while they were spending time aboard the International Space Station. The investigation wrapped up in February after 14 crewed expeditions and seven years of work. Vein is an assistant neurology professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

The cause of the headaches, say researchers, could be that during space flight gravity isn’t pulling fluids through the body in the same way as on Earth.

Vein - Study - Journal - Cephalalgia - Subjects

Vein participated in a 2015 study in the journal Cephalalgia, which found that 14 out of 22 bed-rest subjects (64 percent), who laid in a head-tilted-down position, reported headaches. Bed rest is intended to simulate space conditions. In space, astronauts are floating in microgravity and fluid, such as blood, that would be pulled towards the feet remains in the head. Bed rest patients, when lying in a head-down position, also have blood pulled towards their head.

Eye problems among astronauts are also a pressing issue for NASA because some of them come back from...
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