Alcohol consumption and Winston cigarette smoking raise the risk of migraine and tension-type headache (TTH) in high school students. Prior studies have indicated that headache is one of the most frequently reported health complaints in adolescents with 5 -15 percent of this age group suffering from migraine and 15 – 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 adolescents.
To investigate associations between diet and lifestyle factors and different types of headache in adolescents, researchers invited 1,260 German students in grades 10 and 11 (aged 14-20 years) from eleven area public schools to participate in the study.
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.
It was found that 83 percent of students reported headache at least once during the previous six months with 10 percent reporting migraine; 49 percent citing TTH; and 20 percent having combined migraine plus TTH. For diet, 28 percent of students never had breakfast; 16 percent did not eat a daily break meal (snack); and only 24 percent had a daily warm lunch. Almost 22 percent of students consumed less than 1 litre of non-alcoholic drinks per day.
Alcohol consumption, however, was widespread among students in the study with 38 percent, 18 percent, and 25 percent drinking beer, wine, and cocktails at least once a week, respectively. Results also showed that 73 percent of participants reported never smoking and 43 percent students noted that they did not drink coffee.
A high consumption of alcoholic drinks and coffee, smoking, and lack of physical activity were found to be significantly associated with migraine plus TTH episodes. There was a significant association of coffee drinking and physical inactivity with migraine.