Chewing gum and migraines

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Chewing gum. Your child’s favourite addiction. Did you know that gum-chewing may be the culprit of your child’s headache/migraine? Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv university-affiliated Meir Medical center published his findings in Pediatric neurology.

While typical triggers of headaches in adolescents are stress, tiredness, heat, video games, noise, sunlight, smoking, missed meals and menstruation, Dr. Watemberg noticed that many patients who reported headaches were daily gum chewers.

For this study, Dr. Watemberg observed 30 patients who had chronic headaches/migraines and chewed gum daily (for at least an hour and up to 6 hours a day). He asked them to stop chewing gum for a month and recorded the results. After a month of not chewing gum, patients reported that their headaches/migraines went away completely or that they experienced a decrease in the frequency and severity of their headaches. To test the results, the participants started chewing gum daily again for 2 weeks. Each of them reported the return of their symptoms within days.

Dr. Watemberg concluded that chewing gum puts stress on the TMJ (the joint where the jaw meets the scull) causing migraines and headaches. He says his findings can be put to use immediately.  Doctor’s can advise their patients, teenagers with chronic headaches, to simply stop chewing gum. This can provide them with a quick and effective treatment and prevent the need for expensive tests and medications.

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