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In Adolescents, Additional Health Concerns Frequently Accompany Headache

Headache is a common problem among adolescents, with one-quarter frequently experiencing severe headache, including migraine. Not only do headaches pose problems themselves, but adolescents with headache disorders often experience additional health problems as well.

In this age group, studies about this issue have been limited, but recent analysis of the data from The National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement—a study of 6,843 adolescents through reports and face-to-face interviews—showed a clear association between headache disorders and several health issues.

Study results indicated that abdominal complaints and neurological conditions such as epilepsy, persistent nightmares and motion sickness were more often observed in adolescents with any type of headache, while inflammatory disorders such as asthma and seasonal allergies were significantly more common among adolescents with migraine than those with other types of headache.

Researchers reported that many of their results confirm findings from earlier studies, particularly regarding headache and its association with asthma, allergies and abdominal complaints. However, the study authors noted that in contrast to this study, other research has not found consistent associations between headache and seizures or epilepsy.

Knowledge of headache disorders and the health problems that often accompany them is important for optimal clinical care, genetic investigation and further research on whether or not migraine, headache and other disorders stem from the same cause, the authors stated.

The study appeared online Feb. 28 in the Journal of Pediatrics. Lihong Cui from the National Institutes of Mental Health conducted the statistical analysis.

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