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Chewing bubble gum may be the reason your kids continue to have headaches

If your kid is an avid gum-chewer but also complains of recurrent headaches, than maybe giving up the gum could help solve the problem.

A recent study from Tel Aviv University and published in Pediatric Neurology shows an association between “excessive gum-chewing” and chronic headaches in adolescents.

Headaches are common in childhood and become more frequent during adolescence. Before puberty, boys are affected more frequently than girls, but after the onset of puberty, girls suffer from headaches two-to-three times more often than boys.

They can be triggered by a number of factors including stress and anxiety, certain foods and beverages, and lack of sleep, loud noises and in girls, the menstrual cycle.

The researchers conducted an experiment on 30 teenagers (25 girls and 5 boys), which took place at Meir Medical Center’s Child Neurology Unit and Child Development Center and in community clinics, who suffered from chronic migraines or tension headaches and also chewed gum daily.

They asked the teens to quit chewing gum for one month. They had chewed gum for at least an hour, up to over six hours per day.

When they stopped, 87 percent reported “significant improvement” including 19 of which reported “complete headache resolution.”

After the month of cold turkey, twenty of the teens later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an “immediate relapse of symptoms."

Dr. Nathan Watemberg who led the study, believes that the link between gum-chewing and headaches is triggered by the stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and not the aspartame(artificial sweetener) that is found in gum which another study suggested.

"Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches," Watemberg said in a statement. "I believe this is what's happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively."

He also added that the study’s findings could be used right away with immediate and effective treatment without requiring time-consuming and expensive diagnostic tests and/or the use of prescription medication, even if it was concluded that larger, long-term studies are needed to confirm their findings.

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