The impact of lifestyle factors and chronic stress on frequency and intensity of migraine and tension-type headache among Austrian women

Lifestyle impacts duration and intensity of headaches

  • Sylvia Kirchengast
  • Astrid Molnar Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna
Keywords: migraine, tension-type headache, lifestyle factors, chronic stress


Background Primary headache disorders such as migraine and tension-type headaches represent an important public health problem. Besides genetic factors, environmental parameters, and, in particular, recent lifestyle patterns may contribute to the increasing prevalence of headache disorders.

Sample and methods 173 women, between the ages of 18 and 65 years, were enrolled in the present study. The present study focuses on the association between recent lifestyle patterns such as physical activity, time spent outdoors, time spent in front of TV or computer screens, nicotine consumption, weight status as well as chronic stress exposure, and the duration and intensity of migraine and tension-type headaches (TTHs) in a female sample from Austria. An extensive online questionnaire, consisting of 72 questions regarding sociodemographic background, headache anamnesis, lifestyle factors, such as sleep, and physical activity patterns, was distributed via online platforms by means of a snowball sampling system. Additionally, chronic stress was measured using the Trier Inventory for Chronic Stress.

Results Participants suffering from migraine were significantly older than women suffering from tension-type headaches (TTHs) and migraine. Age was significantly associated with migraine attack frequency. Women suffering from tension-type headaches (TTH) intensity showed significant associations with physical exercise, sleep, and chronic stress. Fewer hours of exercise and higher stress were connected with higher pain intensity. Migraine frequency, in contrast, correlated with daily hours spent in front of computer screen, while stress and physical exercise did not show associations with migraines.

Conclusion The study showed that lifestyle factors may be associated with and may have effects on primary headache disorders, especially tension-type headaches.


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How to Cite
Kirchengast, S., & Molnar, A. (2022). The impact of lifestyle factors and chronic stress on frequency and intensity of migraine and tension-type headache among Austrian women: Lifestyle impacts duration and intensity of headaches. Human Biology and Public Health, 1.