New Delhi: Over one-third of school children who received online lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic reported worsening headache symptoms or new-onset headaches, says a new study.
The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Congress 2022, indicated that prolonged exposure to computer screens, a lack of suitable conditions for online learning from home, school exams, and anxieties about COVID-19 were all found to be risk factors for the worsening of headache symptoms or triggering new-onset headaches.
“Although earlier studies reported that young people were having lesser headaches due to the closure of schools in the early weeks and months of COVID-19, this longer-term study has found that stresses and pressures of the pandemic eventually took their toll,” said lead researcher Ayse Nur Ozdag Acarli from Ermenek State Hospital in Karaman, Turkey.
For the study, the team analyzed 851 adolescents aged between 10 and 18, with 756 (89 percent) of children reporting headaches over the study period. Among these children, 10 percent reported new-onset headaches over the pandemic home-schooling period. Over a quarter (27 percent) of children said their headaches had worsened, 61 percent said their headaches had remained stable and 3 percent said their headaches had improved.
Those who reported worsened or new-onset headaches suffered from headaches an average of 8-9 times per month.
Over half of children within this group (43 percent) used painkillers at least once a month compared to a third (33 percent) in the stable group.
The study found that headaches had a big impact on mental health and school achievements. Depression and anxiety scores, including anxiety about catching Covid-19, were significantly higher in the worsened and new-onset headache groups.