Camps & education | Gum-chewing teens giving themselves headaches

Teenagers are notorious for chewing a lot of gum. And their discarded wads stuck underneath desks or on the floor can give teachers a headache.

Now, Dr. Nathan Watemberg of Tel Aviv University-affiliated Meir Medical Center, has found that gum-chewing teenagers, and younger children as well, may be giving themselves headaches.

His findings, published recently in Pediatric Neurology, could help treat migraine and tension headaches in adolescents.

“Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement and 19 had complete headache resolution” after shunning gum, Watemberg said. “Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all reported an immediate relapse of symptoms.”

Headaches are common in childhood and become more common and frequent during adolescence, particularly among girls, according to Tel Aviv University research.

By advising teenagers with chronic headaches to simply stop chewing gum, Watemberg said, doctors can provide many of them with quick and effective treatment without the need for expensive diagnostic tests or medications.