Food and headache attacks. A comparison of patients with migraine and tension-type headache

Panminerva Med. 2002 Mar;44(1):27-31.


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

Methods: We compared the role of foods as headache trigger in patients with migraine and tension type headache. Three hundred and nine patients were involved in the study and 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, 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 difference in the clinical features.

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

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Cacao / adverse effects
  • Cheese / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology*
  • Tension-Type Headache / etiology*