EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 PM ET, April 21, 2003
Snoring Linked to Headaches
St. Paul, Minn. – A new study finds a link between snoring and chronic daily headache. The study, published in the April 22 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined the snoring habits of people with chronic daily headache and people with occasional headaches. Chronic daily headache was defined as people with at least 15 headaches per month. Occasional headache was defined as two to 104 headaches per year. People with chronic daily headache were more than twice as likely to also be chronic snorers than the people with occasional headaches. The result was the same even when adjusting for factors that can affect breathing in sleep, such as body mass index and alcohol intake. “If we can show that the snoring is causing the headaches, then we may be able to stop or lessen people’s headaches by treating their snoring,” said study author Ann Scher, PhD, of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md. “This would be a great relief to people who suffer from chronic daily headache.” The study involved 206 people ages 18 to 65 with chronic daily headache for five years or less and 507 people with occasional headache. Those with chronic headache had an average of 260 days with headaches per year. Those with occasional headache had an average of 24 headache days per year. The participants were asked how often they snored, and researchers classified their headache types. Scher noted that few studies have validated the accuracy of having patients report their own snoring status. To test the validity, the researchers analyzed the link between snoring and chronic daily headache data separately by gender, age, marital status and headache type and found no significant differences. Those with chronic daily headache were more likely to be female, have a lower educational level and have been previously married (divorced, widowed or separated) than those with occasional headache. Scher said more research is needed to determine the link between snoring and chronic daily headache. “The headaches could be causing the snoring, or the snoring could be causing the headaches, or both,” she said. “Chronic headache can result in disturbed sleep, and sedating medications used to treat pain can aggravate sleep-disordered breathing. On the other side, sleep deprivation or excessive sleep can trigger migraine attacks in some people.” The study was supported by GlaxoSmithKline, the Migraine Trust and the American Headache Society.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 32,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.