Advice Column, Child, Education, Health, Tween & Teen Advice

Exam Headaches

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A recent study conducted at the University of Parakou found that the main triggering factors for headaches and migraines in students were sleeplessness and mental fatigue. Researchers collected the height and weight of each student, to study the factors associated with migraines.

Researchers found that of 1200 students that returned their questionnaires, who were 842 males and 358 females, 171 fulfilled migraine criteria. The overall prevalence of migraines was 14.2% in each student. The main associated factors in the study were the sex of the student and family history of headaches.

According to Dr Elliot Shevel the Chairman of the South African division of the International Headache Society; headaches have become an ordinary occurrence for students around exam times and many of them feel helpless when dealing with this problem. Exam stress often brings on headaches and migraines and pupils become overwhelmed by the immense pressure of performing at their best and their state of health often gets neglected.

Dr. Shevel the Chairman of the South African division of the International Headache Society has the following advice for students:

  • Dietary headache is a common affliction for students. These are usually triggered by foods that assist with energy such as caffeine and chocolate. Take note of which foods trigger headaches for you by keeping a diary and avoid these foods. A Dietary Trigger Diary is available at free of charge to assist you. Remember that skipping meals is a surefire trigger for headaches. Eat in moderation and enjoy your meals.
  • Be aware of your posture when studying as this can result in a tension headache. Use a good chair that supports your back and that gives the ideal posture. Visit http://www.theheadacheclinic.net/ to get a free copy of the Ideal Computer Posture.
  • Learn some easy stretching exercises to stretch the muscles of your head, face, neck and jaw. Stretching should be gentle and soothing, not agonizingly painful. Stretch your neck and jaw muscles carefully and you will get results! A free demonstration by our physio therapist Uru Chiba is available at this link http://www.theheadacheclinic.net/#!free-assistace/c17qc
  • Beware of Medication Overuse Headache. Medication is only appropriate for someone who suffers a few times a month. According to the International Headache Society, if you are taking headache medication more than twice a week you are at risk of developing Medication Overuse Headache. This means that the drugs you are taking will cause the headache or migraine to become more severe and more frequent over time. This leads to a downward spiral into constant medication use and constant pain. The more medication you take, the more pain you are in, the more medication you need, and the cycle continues.
  • It is important that you keep your stress levels to a minimum. Plan ahead to guarantee that you have enough time to study and that you get sufficient rest each night. One should also take regular breaks to ensure that you don’t get overworked.

“If the problem persists, it is imperative that you get an accurate diagnosis” added Dr Shevel. There are a number of treatment options that can be investigated. The longer the headache persists, the more damage will be done. Dr. Shevel suggests getting to the bottom of the problem and resolving the pain permanently.

For further details on the study please contact Nadia Ismail on  0861 678 911

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