Chewing gum is often responsible for headaches in young children and teenagers, say researchers in the January issue of Pediatric Neurology.
A research team led by Nathan Watemberg, MD, chairman of the Child Development Institute and the Child Neurology Unit at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Israel, which is affiliated with Tel Aviv University School of Medicine, consecutively recruited 30 patients ranging in age from 6 to 19 years who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum between one and six hours per day.
Researchers asked the participants to fill out a questionnaire pertaining headache characteristics, potential triggers, family history of headaches and gum-chewing habits. They then classified the participants into four groups depending on the number of hours they chewed gum daily.
Researchers had the participants discontinue chewing gum for one month and then interviewed them. Nineteen of the patients reported that their headaches went away entirely, and seven reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of headaches. To test the results, researchers asked 26 of the participants to resume gum chewing for two weeks. All of the participants reported a return of their symptoms within days.
Dr. Watemberg says his team’s findings can be put to use immediately. By advising teenagers with chronic headaches who chew gum to simply stop chewing gum, doctors can provide many of them with quick and effective treatment without the need for diagnostic tests or medications