A new study has linked alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking to increased migraines and tension-type headaches (TTH) in high school students.
Coffee drinking and physical inactivity were associated specifically with migraines in the study by German researchers.
Prior studies have indicated that headache is one of the most frequently reported health complaints in adolescents with 5 percent -15 percent of this age group suffering from migraine and 15 percent -25 percent with TTH. Modifiable risk factors, such as alcohol use, cigarette smoking and coffee drinking which have been associated with headache in adults, have not been fully explored in a youth population.
The students were asked to fill out a questionnaire on headache and associated lifestyle factors. Students were asked: 'Did you have headache during the last seven days/three months/six months?' and were classified as headache sufferers if the response was positive. Furthermore, migraine and TTH were differentiated by questions regarding headache characteristics and symptoms. The questionnaire also inquired about diet and lifestyle (e.g. 'Do you daily have breakfast before you go to school?'; 'How much beer, wine and cocktails do you normally drink?'; 'How much coffee do you normally drink?'; Do you smoke?').
Research results show 83.1 percent of students reported headache at least once during the previous six months with 10.2 percent reporting migraine; 48.7 percent citing TTH; and 19.8 percent having combined migraine plus TTH. For diet, 28.4 percent of students never had breakfast; 16.5 percent did not eat a daily break meal (snack); and only 24.0 percent had a daily warm lunch.
Researchers found that 22.3 percent of students consumed less than 1 liter (4.23 8 ounce cups) of non-alcoholic drinks per day. Alcohol consumption, however, was widespread among students in the study with 38.5 percent, 18.6 percent, and 25.3 percent drinking beer, wine, and cocktails at least once per week, respectively. Results also showed that 73.3 percent of participants reported never smoking and 43.4 percent students noted that they did not drink coffee.
The authors found that a high consumption of alcoholic drinks and coffee, smoking, and lack of physical activity were significantly associated with migraine plus TTH episodes. There was a significant association of coffee drinking and physical inactivity with migraine.
The study appears online in Headache, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Headache Society.