Looking Out for Teens' Headaches

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Chronic daily headaches among teens related to multiple risk factors

June 16, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Dominique Brooks, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Many people may think adults are the most likely to experience migraines. However, young teens can have migraines and get chronic daily headaches as well.

A recent study found these daily headaches are not uncommon for some teens.

Teens who had been diagnosed with migraine were more likely to get chronic daily headaches, but they were not the only ones.

Girls appear more likely than boys to get certain types of headaches. Obesity and severe financial stress in the family were a few risk factors identified.

"Teen headaches? Talk to your pediatrician."

The study, led by Shiang-Ru Lu, MD, of the Department of Neurology at Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, aimed to better understand chronic daily headaches in young teens.

The researchers looked at both migraine headaches and at chronic tension-type headaches.

The researchers included 3,342 students, aged 13 and 14, from three Taiwanese middle schools in their study from 2005 to 2007.

The teens answered questionnaires about having regular headaches every day. Those who did not say they had chronic daily headaches in the questionnaire were followed for one to two years to see if their experience changed.

The teens also filled out questionnaires related to depression and how much the headaches interfered with their daily lives.

Over the follow-up time of the study, 63 teens (21 boys and 42 girls) developed chronic daily headaches. In this group, 37 had chronic migraines and 22 had chronic tension-type headaches.

In terms of frequency, in one year, about 1.13 percent of the teens experienced chronic daily headaches.

At the start of the study, 33 of these teens (52 percent of them) had already been diagnosed with migraines.

The researchers identified a number of different risk factors that appeared linked to chronic daily headaches.

Girls appeared to be at higher risk than boys for chronic tension-type headaches and chronic daily headaches in general, but not for migraines.

Those already diagnosed with migraines were at higher risk for continuing to have daily headaches of any kind.

The study was published June 17 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the Taiwan National Science Council, Taipei-Veterans General Hospital, the National Central University in Taiwan, the Brain Research Center at National Yang-Ming University and the Ministry of Education.

One author is a scientific advisory board member of Eli Lilly and has received research funding from the company.

Another author has served on the advisory boards of Pfizer, Allergan and Eli Lilly Taiwan and received speaking fees from Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Other than institutional funding received, the other authors reported no potential conflicts of interest.