Chewing gum could be causing your teen’s migraines or headaches, according to a new study out of Tel Aviv University in Israel. The research showed that 87 percent of kids who stopped chewing gum showed improved symptoms and those who later went back to the habit relapsed.
Younger children as well showed a connection between gum chewing habits and headaches, says Dr. Nathan Watemberg of the Tel-Aviv affiliated Meir Medical Center. “Out of our 30 patients, 26 reported significant improvement, and 19 had complete headache resolution,” Watemberg said in a news release. “Twenty of the improved patients later agreed to go back to chewing gum, and all of them reported an immediate relapse of symptoms.”
Typical headache triggers include stress, fatigue, heat, video games, noise, smoking and menstruation. Watermberg noticed that many patients who reported headaches were daily gum chewers. He asked 30 patients between the ages of 6 and 19 who had chronic migraine or tension headaches and chewed gum daily to quit chewing gum for one month. They had chewed gum for at least one hour to more than six hours per day.
After one month without gum, 19 of the 30 reported their headaches went away entirely, and seven reported a decrease in frequency and intensity. To test the results, 26 of them agreed to resume gum chewing for two weeks, and all reported a return of symptoms within days, according to the study.
Watemberg leans toward the explanation that gum chewing causes stress to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, where the jaw meets the skull. Overuse can cause headaches, Watemberg says.