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Bad Habits Tied to Recurrent Headaches in Teens
Date:8/18/2010

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Quitting smoking, getting more exercise and losing weight could help many headache-prone teens ease their suffering, new research suggests.

The large Norwegian study found a positive association between those three lifestyle factors and recurrent headaches among adolescents.

Maintaining healthy habits will help reduce the number of headaches teens get and forestall headaches for those who don't yet have them, said Dr. Andrew D. Hershey, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

In the study, teens who smoked, exercised less than twice a week and were overweight or obese were over three times more likely to have recurrent headaches.

Of the roughly 5,800 teens surveyed, 55 percent of those who had all three bad lifestyle factors also had recurrent headaches, compared to only 25 percent with no negative factors.

Teens with two of the negative factors were almost twice as likely to have frequent headaches, classified in the study as migraine, tension, or "nonclassifiable headaches" that fit neither description.

"The bottom-line message, and it's hard for teens to get it, is it's important to take good care of yourself and maintain healthy habits all your life," said Hershey. "When you don't, those who are prone to headaches are the ones who will suffer most."

Headaches are among the top five physical complaints of teens, more frequent than asthma, said Hershey, who is also director of the headache center at the hospital. He said 30 percent to 40 percent of teens were found in a previous study to get recurrent headaches.

In the current study, published in the Aug. 18 online edition of the journal Neurology, 16 percent of the students were overweight, 19 percent smoked, and 31 percent exercised less than twice a week.

The study volunteers, aged 13
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