Impact of headaches on children underestimated

  • Olivia Fens

One in five students suffer from a headache at least once a week, new research has found.

The study of more than 1,000 teenagers aged 12 to 15 years, also found that 10% of students were suffering from more than two headaches a week.

And the researches found that those children who had more than two headaches a week had a poorer quality of life than that of children with asthma, diabetes, or cancer.

The UK study found that the significant impact of headache on the quality of life of children was both ‘unrecognised and unmet’. The researchers added that GPs have an important role in identification and management of this problem.

Previous studies have found that having headaches as a child can lead to the development of chronic conditions persisting into adulthood. There is also an associated risk of developing other physical and psychiatric conditions.

In the study, 31% of the students said they had no headache, and 20% of the students reported suffering from a headache less than once a month.

But for 20% of students, their headaches affected their ability to function at school and at home on more than 12 days in a three-month period.

Those who suffered from more than two headaches a week said that they had trouble doing daily tasks and activities on 17 days in the three-month period.

“The needs of many adult headache sufferers are unmet, and this study shows that in children the need is even more significant,” co-author of the study, Dr David Kernick from the Royal College of General Practitioner’s said.

“Many children are suffering unnecessarily at home and at school. We need to do more to recognise and treat this problem, and the RCGP is working hard towards this.”

The study was published in the British Journal of General Practice.

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