Use of most electronic media is not associated with headaches, at least not in adolescents. A study of 1025 13-17 year olds, published in the open access journal BMC Neurology, found no association between the use of computer games, mobile phones or television and the occurrence of headaches or migraines. However, listening to one or two hours of music every day was associated with a pounding head.
Astrid Milde-Busch, from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany, worked with a team of researchers to study the links between exposure to electronics and the prevalence and type of headaches. She said, "Excessive use of electronic media is often reported to be associated with long-lasting adverse effects on health like obesity or lack of regular exercise, or unspecific symptoms like tiredness, stress, concentration difficulties and sleep disturbances. Studies into the occurrence of headaches have had mixed results and for some types of media, in particular computer games, are completely lacking."
The researchers interviewed 489 teenagers who claimed to suffer from headaches and 536 who said they did not. When the two groups were compared, no associations were found for television viewing, electronic gaming, mobile phone usage or computer usage. Daily consumption of music was significantly associated with suffering from any type of headache, although, as Milde-Busch points out, "It cannot be concluded whether the habit of listening to music is the cause of frequent headaches, or the consequence in the sense a self-therapy by relaxation."
- Astrid Milde-Busch, Rudiger von Kries, Silke Thomas, Sabine Heinrich, Andreas Straube and Katja Radon. The association between use of electronic media and prevalence of headache in adolescents: results from a population-based cross-sectional study. BMC Neurology, (in press)
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