New research links stress and migraines

HOUSTON - We all get headaches, but if you suffer from migraines you know they are especially miserable. A new study finds the more stress you have in your life, the more migraine and tension headaches you may develop.

"We need to pay attention to stress," said Dr. Stewart Tepper, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic. "Stress is really common in migraines and stress reduction should help in controlling migraines."

University researchers in Germany studied nearly 5,200 people ages 21 to 71. Participants were asked about their stress levels and headaches four times a year for two years.

Results showed stress contributed to the onset of headache disorders, the worsening of headache episodes, and accelerated the progression to chronic headache. This emphasizes the importance of stress management approaches for people with migraine and/or tension-type headaches.

"We can remove stress or help patients reduce stress and help migraine that way, but migraine is not caused by stress," Tepper said. "Migraine is a neurological illness in which stress is a trigger for the migraine."

In addition to stress, common triggers for migraine include hunger, alcohol, dehydration, menstrual cycles, poor sleep, and even certain foods like cheese, chocolate, and red wine.

If you suffer from migraines, researchers say it's important to figure out what your migraine triggers are and that using a headache diary can be helpful.

Doctors suggest recording what you ate and details about your day every time you have a migraine. That can help identify patterns you can avoid.

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