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Obesity and Smoking: Are They Linked to Migraines in Teens?

Previous studies done in the past have shown that lifestyle choices made by adults can affect the frequency, duration, and severity of chronic headache conditions such as migraines. While migraines are usually an inherited trait, it has been proven in the past that smoking and obesity can exaggerate the symptoms making the experience of chronic headaches worse for smokers and people who are overweight.

Migraines in Teens

Teenagers and children are not immune to chronic headache conditions. Migraines usually present itself during adulthood, but there are those who begin experiencing the symptoms of this condition early on in life. Those who do experience chronic headaches as children or teenagers usually inherit the condition from their parents or blood relatives. This can be a very distressing experience especially during this crucial period of development where a lot of physical, emotional, and psychological changes occur.

As teenage migraines are becoming more common, scientists and headache experts are trying to figure out how this increase in the number of migraine cases in teenagers occurred. In a recent study done in Oslo, Norway, it was found that the same lifestyle choices that affect the severity and frequency of migraine attacks in adults also has the same effect on teenagers. The study involved interviewing 6,000 teenagers aged 13-18. In the interview, they were asked about their history of headaches and whether or not they smoked. A large percentage of the population included in the study was overweight and this was factored into the research as well.

What the researchers found out from the interviews was 36% of the girls and 21% of the boys interviewed reported that they had experienced recurring headaches during the past year. The final results show that teenagers who smoke or suffer from obesity have more than 3 times the chance to experience severe chronic headaches. Of all the teenagers who were overweight and admitted to being a smoker, more than half of them said to have experienced frequent severe headaches within the past year, whereas in the group of average-weight teens who did not smoke, only one-fourth of them reported experiencing migraines or other forms of chronic headaches.

Nurture VS Nature

While it has been established that genetics play a major role in whether a person will develop a migraine anytime in his or her lifetime, the fact remains that environmental factors can also affect how frequent and how bad the headaches will be. It can also help speed up the process and these headaches can begin earlier than most people. The best thing to do in this case is to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Quitting smoking, eating well and getting more exercise are among the first steps to managing chronic headaches. It’s best to do these when you’re young as they will help lessen the chances of developing other health complications related to bad lifestyle choices.

Migraines aren’t the only health issues that obese people and smokers have to deal with. Living an unhealthy lifestyle that involves not eating properly, not getting enough sleep, and introducing toxins to the body through smoking can cause multiple health problems in the future.

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