The results of a new research study have revealed that children suffering from headache disorders are experiencing more frequently experiencing pain and greater anxiety in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The little study, released in peer reviewed Journal of Child Neurology, indicates that children are more stressed -caused by interruptions in their lives, social isolation, and anxiety about the condition — and less physical activity and an increase in screen time as the causes.
The increased use of virtual worlds might have created feelings of anxiety and isolation for children, the lead writer Marc DiSabella, an osteopathic doctor and director of the Headache Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., announced in a news announcement.
“These results are extremely important for me as a doctor and also a parent” DiSabella said.
“It is vital that we get an understanding of the way that stress and changes to routines affect children’s wellbeing and their overall mood.”
The researchers had 107 child patients suffering from headaches fill out a questionnaire from the summer of 2020 until winter 2021 to observe any changes to their headaches and lifestyle.
Prior to the pandemic 60% of the respondents said they had headaches for less than 15 days during a month.
The rate dropped to 50 per percentage during the pandemic with the number of people experiencing constant headaches increasing to 36 percent from 22 percent pre-pandemic.
49% of patients reported that their headaches became worse after the epidemic began and 54 percent reported that the amount of physical activity they engaged in diminished due to COVID-19. Patients and their families frequently cite the lack of physical activity as the reason for migraines as the study’s authors write.
Sixty-one percent of the respondents also said they used screens for longer than six hours in a day.
While researchers claim that there is no way to determine if the an increase in screen time causes headaches or otherwise, people and their families “routinely” suggest the screen as a cause of headaches.
DiSabella says that people suffering from headache disorders are disproportionately affected by frequent complaints of mood as well as participants who participated in the study experiencing more depression, anxiety, and mood during the time of the pandemic.
Researchers say that the small sample size of the study and observational design are the main aspects.
However, DiSabella suggests parents speak to kids about the effect the pandemic is having in their headaches and moods and offer assistance at home or through a professional who is trained with expertise in psychology for children.
“Having headaches every single day, throughout the day without a break or relief difficult for children and the parents of them,” DiSabella said.
“They simply would like to be a normal kid but have no control over the moment that pain gets worse, and suddenly they are incapable of doing simple things like reading a novel or interacting with friends, which creates uncertainty about what they will be able to do in the near future.”
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