Smartphone users who suffer from regular headaches and migraines use more painkillers but find less relief, study shows
- Researchers surveyed 400 people who get headaches or migraines regularly
- The team asked the participants to detail their device and painkiller usage
- Smartphone users tend to take nearly twice as many pills as non-users
- However, they appear to be 10 per cent less likely to find such effective
Smartphone users who suffer from regular headaches and migraines typically use more painkillers but find less relief, researchers have found.
Researchers led from India found that smartphone users were more likely to pop nearly twice as many pills — but 10 per cent less likely to find such effective.
However, the team cautioned that their findings only show an association and not causation.
There are more than 45 million smartphone users in the UK — with each typically spending more than two hours looking at their screens every day.
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Smartphone users who suffer from regular headaches and migraines typically use more painkillers but find less relief, researchers have found
‘While these results need to be confirmed with larger and more rigorous studies, the findings are concerning,’ said paper author and neurologist Deepti Vibha of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
‘Smartphone use is growing rapidly and has been linked to a number of symptoms, with headache being the most common.’
There are four types of headache — cluster, which tend to focus on one side of the head; tension, which feels like a band around the head; sinus; and migraines.
Professor Vibha and colleagues surveyed 400 people in India who suffered from headaches or migraines on a regular basis, with a focus on both their smartphone and medication usage.
They found that 95 per cent of smartphone users popped eight pills a month on average, whereas only 85 per cent of non-users popped only five pills each month.
‘The root of the problem is not yet clear,’ said paper author and neurologist Heidi Moawad, of the Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, in the US.
‘Is it the user’s neck position, or the phone’s lighting, or eye strain, or the stress of being connected at all times?’
‘Answers will likely emerge in upcoming years and eventually guide strategies for more sustainable use of these devices.’
The researchers also found that smartphone owners said that painkillers did not offer the same level of pain relief as reported by non-users.
In fact, only 85 per cent of smartphone users said they felt moderate or complete relief from painkillers, versus 95 per cent of non-users.
Researchers led from India found that smartphone users were more likely to pop nearly twice as many pills — but 10 per cent less likely to find such effective
‘Features such as hands-free settings, voice activation and audio functions could potentially hold the key to helping smartphone users benefit from their phones without exacerbating their headaches,’ added Dr Moawad.
The number of prescriptions issued for painkillers has risen from over 10 million in 2007 to over 20 million in 2017.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice.
WHAT HELPS TO PREVENT MIGRAINES?
Being open to new experiences reduces people’s risk of migraines, research suggested in June 2017.
A preference for variation over routine prevents crippling headaches among depression sufferers, a study found.
Yet, neuroticism – a personality trait associated with nervousness and irritability – increases migraine’s risk, the research adds.
Study author Dr Máté Magyar from Semmelweis University in Budapest, said: ‘An open character appears to offer protection from [migraine].
‘Our study results could help to provide a better understanding of the biopsychosocial background of migraine, and help to find novel strategies in the prevention of and interventions for [migraine].’
The researchers analysed the relationship between personality traits, depression and migraines in more than 3,000 sufferers of the mental-health condition.
Depression is associated with an increased risk of migraines.
The participants were ranked according to their openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
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