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Food and Headache Attacks: A Comparison of Patients
with Migraine and Tension-type Headache
Savi L, Rainero I, et al.
Posted: May 2003  
Panminerva Med 2002;44:27-31

Background:   The role of foods as headache precipitants is still a matter of debate. Several studies reported that dietary constituents may precipitate migraine attacks. Some authors reported that tension-type headache attacks may also be provided by foods. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of foods as headache triggers in both groups of patients.

Methods:   The authors compared the role of foods as headache trigger in patients with migraine and tension-type headache. The study involved 390 patients who were divided into six groups: 1) migraine without aura; 2) migraine with aura; 3) episodic tension-type headache; 4) chronic tension-type headache; 5) migraine without aura associated with episodic tension-type headache; and 6) migraine without aura associated with chronic tension-type headache.

Results:   Approximately one-third of the patients reported susceptibility to certain foods. The percentage of food sensitivity was not significantly different between patients with migraine or tension-type headache. The foods more commonly reported as headache triggers were alcoholic drinks, chocolate, and cheese. No difference in specific food sensitivity between groups was found. The comparison of food-sensitive with food non-sensitive patients showed no significant different in the clinical features.

Conclusions:   This study suggests that foods may trigger not only migraine but also tension-type headache attacks.