Video Q & A:

Kids & Teens


How common are migraines in teens & college students?

Expert:   Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. , St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center »

Some estimates are that almost a third of teens and college students get migraines. But what's more interesting are the causes, watch this to see what they are!

Transcript: Some estimates are that almost a third of teens and college students get migraines. But by the time young women are in their 20s, they have migraines THREE times as frequently as men—striking as often as 2 or 3 times a week. That’s likely the result of rapid fluctuations in female hormones that are common during these years. Still research indicates that for BOTH males and females, high school and college is prime migraine time, because the lives of teenagers are FILLED with migraine TRIGGERS: stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and too much alcohol, to name just a few. The National Headache Foundation says that the psychological and physical stress of studying is another trigger. The combination of eyestrain, poor studying posture, exhaustion, and test anxiety is a sure recipe for a migraine. Add a steady flow of energy drinks and strong coffee and migraine risk is even greater. True, caffeine-containing medications can help ease a migraine, but regular use of caffeine can actually cause migraine frequency to increase and may make you vulnerable to rebound headaches that can strike even as the primary migraine is fading. Teens’ eating habits may also account for their vulnerability to migraines. Eating foods, such as aged cheeses, soy sauce, seafood, peanut and nut butters, and meats like pepperoni and lunch meats that are processed with nitrates and nitrites, can bring on a migraine. Alcohol is also a trigger. These foods and most alcohol contain tyramine. Tyramine isn’t a food additive, it is in many foods, and levels increase when foods are aged, fermented, stored for long periods of time, or are not fresh. When you eat foods that contain a lot if tyramine, it causes blood flow in the brain to increase, triggering migraines. More »

Can't Find an Answer? Send us your question »