Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Font Size

Obesity, Smoking Linked to Teen Migraines

Study Shows Lack of Exercise Also May Also Increase Chances of Migraines in Teenagers

Start of School Year Is a Vulnerable Time

Adolescent headache specialist Andrew D. Hershey, MD, PhD, tells WebMD that most children and teens with migraines and other severe, chronic headaches are genetically predisposed to have them.

Hershey directs the headache center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"Children with migraines tend to have a parent who has had them," he says. "Environmental influences come into play by causing headaches to be expressed more frequently."

Hershey's own research, published last year, found that overweight children who suffered from frequent headaches had fewer headaches after losing weight.

He says lifestyle counseling is a critical, but often overlooked, component of treating headaches. His advice to his patients:

  • Eat regular, balanced meals.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay hydrated with drinks that do not contain caffeine.
  • Exercise at least four times a week.

"The two most common triggers for headaches in kids is skipping meals and not getting enough sleep," he says.

That makes the start of a new school year a particularly vulnerable time for junior high and high school students because their natural sleep cycle is often disturbed.

Around the time of puberty, adolescents develop a sleep phase delay that makes it natural for them to fall asleep later in the evening and wake up later in the morning.

"Most teens have to get up at 6:00 or 6:30 to get to school and many skip breakfast to get a little more sleep," he says. "That is two strikes against them before the day even gets started. Every year around the end of September and early October we see a big increase in headache cases."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Business woman with hand on face and eyes closed
What aura looks like, triggers, and more.
woman with migraine
Get the truth about migraines.
headache in the bedroom
Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
woman with hands on head
Test your knowledge of triggers, types, and more.
woman with migraine
drinking coffee
Migraines Headaches Basics
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Tired young man
spraying perfume
man with a headache
headache in the bedroom