Is your teen troubled by headaches while studying? Here's how to avoid them


Exams are a very traumatic time for students. The pressures of exams are so overwhelming for students that it starts to affect their health.

Headaches have become a regular occurrence for students around this time of year and many of them feel vulnerable when dealing with this problem. 

Dr Elliot Shevel, the medical director of The Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, offers the following advice:

1. Headaches brought on by stress

It is important that your teen keeps their stress levels to a minimum. They should plan ahead and double check the time and place of the exams and leave plenty of time to get there.

Guarantee that your teen has sufficient time to study and also get enough rest the night before the exam.

2. Dietary related headaches

A healthy diet with regular and well-balanced meals can often work wonders for a headache-prone person.

Dietary headaches are a common affliction and are usually triggered by foods that assist with energy, such as caffeine and chocolate. Identify which foods trigger your headaches and avoid them. According to Health24, these may include:

  • yellow cheese, and other dairy products
  • red meat
  • nuts
  • foods high in monosodium glutamate (MSG) and alcohol

Make sure your child drinks as much water as they can. Dehydration is a common trigger and adequate intake of fluid throughout the day can prevent headaches.

The human brain is more than 75% water, and it is very sensitive to the amount of water available to it.

When the brain detects that the water supply is too low, it begins to produce histamines. This is essentially a process of water rationing and conservation, in order to safeguard the brain in case the water shortage continues for a long period of time.

The histamines directly cause pain and fatigue, in other words a headache and the low energy that usually accompanies it.

3. Headaches relating to your posture

Studying in front of a computer for long hours can trigger headaches due to posture. Your teen should use a good chair that supports the back and gives ideal posture.

Follow this link for Health24's list of stretching exercises that build up posture.  

4. Tension type headaches

Check that your teen is taking regular breaks approximately every 45 minutes to ensure that they don’t get overworked.

These headaches are the most common, and are caused due to the straining of the muscles in the neck and shoulders, reports Health24. 

Learn the right stretching techniques to stretch the muscles of the head, face, neck and jaw. Stretching should be gentle and soothing, not agonizingly painful.

If done correctly, this will give results.

When to consult a medical professional

If your teen's headache persists after their exams, it is imperative that they undergo a multidisciplinary investigation to diagnose the specific factors behind the recurring headache.

For those patients who want to have healthier alternatives to medication, there are a number of various breakthrough treatment options.

These include bloodless surgery, minimally evasive arterial surgery and posture modifying technologies. In most cases it is possible to get to the bottom of the problem and resolve the pain permanently.



The Migraine Research Institute

Read more: 

How does your teen deal with stress during exam time? Leave a comment below. 

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