Drinking, smoking linked to headaches in students

A
study by German researchers has found that drinking alcohol and smoking
cigarettes contributes to increased migraines and headaches in high school
students.

Coffee
drinking and physical inactivity were associated specifically with migraines,
the researchers found.

Prior
studies indicated that headaches are one of the most frequently reported health
complaints in adolescents with 5 per cent to 15 per cent of this age group
suffering from migraines and 15 per cent to 25 per cent with tension-type
headaches.

Risk
factors, such as alcohol use, cigarette smoking and coffee drinking which have
been associated with headaches in adults, have not been fully explored in a
youth population until this study.

Astrid
Milde-Busch and colleagues at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich,
Germany, invited 1,260 students aged 14 to 20 from 11 public schools to
participate in the study.

“Our
study confirms, adolescents with any type of headache might benefit from
regular physical activity and low consumption of alcoholic drinks,” said Dr.
Milde-Busch. “In teens suffering from migraine, a low coffee consumption should
also be suggested.” Skipping meals or insufficient fluid intake was not associated
with any type of headache.

Results
of the study, the first to investigate modifiable risk factors for different
types of headaches in a youth population, appear online in Headache: The
Journal of Head and Face Pain.

The
students were asked if they’d had headaches during the last seven days/three
months/six months and were classified as headache sufferers if the response was
positive, and also answered questions on their diet and lifestyle.

Research
results show 83.1 per cent of students reported having headaches at least once
during the previous six months with 10.2 per cent reporting migraines; 48.7 per
cent citing tension-type headaches; and 19.8 per cent having both.

Researchers
found that 22.3 per cent of students consumed less than one litre of
non-alcoholic drinks per day. Alcohol consumption, however, was widespread
among students in the study with 38.5 per cent, 18.6 per cent, and 25.3 per
cent drinking beer, wine, and cocktails at least once per week, respectively.

According
to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 per cent of high school
students in the US have had one or more alcoholic drinks during their lifetime.
A 2004 report by the World Health Organisation notes that alcohol consumption
by those under 20 varies by country and “a trend of increased drinking to intoxication”.

“A
great number of teens are engaging in activities such as drinking and smoking
which can trigger headaches,” said Dr. Milde-Busch. “Intervention studies that
assess psycho-education programs to educate youths about headache-triggering
behaviours are recommended.”

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