Pandemic caused more pain for Children prone to Headaches -- MedicineNet

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By Denise Mann HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 9, 2022 (HealthDay News)

Add frequent headaches for children who are already at risk of their own diseases that can be linked to the pandemic.

Prior to the outbreak the epidemic, 60% of children were suffering from headaches for just less than fifteen days in the month. When the pandemic, this percentage dropped to 50 percent. Furthermore, the percentage of children who reported constant headaches was up from 22% prior to the pandemic , to 36% following the onset that pandemic.

“This is a huge growth,” said study author Dr. Marc DiSabella. He is the director of the Headache Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The exact mechanism by which COVID-19 increases the frequency of headaches among children who suffer from migraines isn’t completely understood yet, however the researchers have theories — which are based on higher stress levels or physical activity, as well as more time spent on screens.

“COVID-19 caused disruption to normalcy and the majority of sufferers with migraines have Type-A personalities who need control. COVID-19 destroyed that,” DiSabella said.

The study involved 107 adolescents and children took part in a survey about their headaches and other lifestyle issues from the beginning of the epidemic. Alongside the frequent headaches nearly 50% of children said their headaches were worse following the outbreak of the pandemic and many also reported increased mood and anxiety, which may contribute to increased intensity and frequency.

A whopping 54% of children claimed that they received less exercise and 61% of them spent at least six hours each day on screens during the time of the pandemic. A lot of screen time and less exercise may trigger headaches DiSabella explained.

However, this doesn’t mean parents or children with headaches have no power.

“Reset routines,” DiSabella said. “It might differ from the routine your child was using prior to the pandemic however, establishing regular exercise is beneficial.”

If sports for kids aren’t a possibility, choose a secure alternative that allows your kids to be active all day. “If children suffer from headaches more than four times a month that affect their life quality and health, they should seek medical treatment,” he said.

The results are published online by the Journal of Child Neurology.

The results match the findings the doctor. Christina Szperka has been working with since the start of this pandemic. The director is for the Pediatric Headache Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“Some patients have definitely experienced more severe headache symptoms in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic,” said Szperka who was not a part of the study.

“This could be due to the stress of social isolation or a decrease in physical activity or more screen time [which can have postural consequences], but those who’s headaches have gotten worse after the COVID epidemic have a higher likelihood of seeking medical attention and are more likely to respond to surveys regarding the issue,” she said. A poor posture when interacting with screens may strain neck and back which can cause or worsen headaches.

But, some kids suffering from headaches could have benefited from greater flexibility in their school schedules and less social pressures in the first days of the epidemic, Szperka added. For instance, students who suffer from migraines in online school can often be able to tune to class while having their cameras shut off, rather than miss the class, as they would at in-person schools She said.

SLIDESHOW 16 Surprising Headache Triggers and Tips for Pain Relief See Slideshow

“It is crucial that we understand both the positive and negative impacts of COVID-19 in order to aid our patients over the long term,” Szperka said.

More details

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more information on headaches in children.

Sources: Marc DiSabella, DO director of the Headache Program, Children’s National Hospital, Washington, D.C.; Christina Szperka, MD Director, Pediatric Headache Program, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Journal of Child Neurology

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