Teens Get More Headaches As They Head Back To School

According to new research, teens get more headaches in the fall.

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Color-changing leaves, back-to-school supplies, and... throbbing headaches? These are three things that become increasingly popular in the fall. While that last item on the list may be a bit of a surprise, new research from Nationwide Children's Hospital found that there's an increase in headaches for kids ages 5-18 every autumn.

Why the shift? Possible triggers for adolescent headaches include lack of hydration, extra screen time, more stress, and changes in routine. Plus, not getting as much sleep could be a factor. (Not getting enough sleep can cause quite a few other health dilemmas, too!) This research began after doctors noticed an increase in headache-related visits as kids headed back to school.

Using a relatable analogy, Nationwide Children's headache specialist Dr. Howard Jacobs says,

Your brain is like your cell phone. If you don't plug your cell phone in, it doesn't have energy, it doesn't work well. If you don't plug your brain in by providing energy, it doesn't work well and that causes headaches.

As for how to fix this, he suggests teens eat three meals a day, get a good night's sleep, stay hydrated, and try to remove extra stresses. If it gets to the point where headaches affect a teen's daily routine, it's definitely time to see a doctor.

For more about this topic, check out "What A Headache!" from the May 2014 issue of Choices. And for a conversation about another type of head pain, read our latest debate about football and concussions.