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HomeExclusiveHow Do I Know If My Child Has A Migraine

How Do I Know If My Child Has A Migraine

What Symptoms Should I Look For In My Kids

How can I help my child who has the flu?

Sometimes, a migraine can be hard to spot. No blood or bruises, no fever or chills, no broken bonesbut inside the pain is immense.

Besides your childs complaints about intense head pain, you should be alert to some other symptoms that may mean he or she has migraines.

Generally, migraine pain may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, sounds or odors, and your child may want to lie down in a dark room. Also be alert about unusual depression or irritability in your child. People with chronic migraine, including children, are those who have migraine attacks at least 15 days per month.

If he or she has experienced vomiting after a head blow or injury in sports or play, be on the lookout for other evidence that he or she may have had a concussion. Migraine is a major symptom of concussion but you might also observe that he or she has a dazed, stunned or confused look, inability to remember the hit or events just before or after hit, slow response to questions, insomnia or excessive sleeping, irritability, depression, and mood swings.

See a doctor as soon as possible and learn more about sports concussions from the American Migraine Foundation.

Other Signs And Symptoms Of Migraine In Children

  • Weakness on one side
  • Torticollis
  • Cyclical vomiting
  • Abdominal migraine

Conditions like cyclical vomiting, abdominal migraine, and even motion sickness are often related to childhood migraine.

These things often arise and show themselves before kids start to develop migraines. So if your child has had a history of things like car sickness, cyclical vomiting, or pain in the abdomen in the past, this might clue you in that their current symptoms may be related to migraine.

When To Call The Doctor

  • Daily headaches, especially if they interfere with school or play.

  • Headaches caused by straining from coughing, sneezing, running or having a bowel movement.

  • Headaches that occur along with pain in the eye or ear, confusion, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, or numbness.

  • Headaches that keep coming back and get worse.

  • Headaches similar to those suffered by other family members.

  • Headaches following a head injury that don’t go away after a week.

  • Headaches severe enough to wake the child from sleep.

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How Often Can I Give My Child Pain Medication For Headaches

Medications designed to treat primary headaches, both OTC and prescription ones, should be used sparingly so they dont cause rebound headaches, which are brought on by the overuse of pain relievers. OTC drugs such as Advil should be given no more than three days a week, and triptans should be used a maximum of nine times per month.

What To Do When Your Child Has A Headache

SEE: Do you have a headache or a migraine?

Knowing how to address and treat a childs headache can help a patient feel better. A new Mott poll examines how families approach the issue.

Headaches arent fun, no matter a patients age.

But when the headache sufferer is a child, the discomfort can put added anxiety on a parent or caretaker to find out whats wrong.

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Parents can be very worried based on something theyve read or stories theyve heard about someone else, says Steven Leber, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric neurologist at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Childrens Hospital.

Dangerous headaches are very rare, however, and some simple screening questions can almost always exclude them and reassure the parents.

Still, the latest C.S. Mott Childrens Hospital National Poll on Childrens Health found that families differ on when to give pain medication and consult a doctor. They may also struggle with whether to go to the emergency room, call their regular provider or wait it out at home.

A big factor: symptoms that accompany the headache. A stomachache would prompt 21 percent of surveyed parents to seek medical care twice as many would do so if a fever occurred with the headache.

Just 4 percent would visit an emergency room for a childs headache. Most nearly 75 percent said theyd consult their family physician.

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What To Expect When Treatment Starts

Right away, start keeping a headache diary to help you track how well medication and therapy are working. Bring the diary to your child’s follow-up appointments so the doctor can check it and tweak the treatment program, if necessary.

If your child’s symptoms get worse or happen more often even with treatment, ask the doctor to refer you to a headache specialist.

What Can I Do For The Pain

Here are a few things that might help you feel better:

  • Lie down in a dark, quiet room.

  • Put a cold, damp cloth over your forehead.

  • Massage your scalp using a lot of pressure.

  • Put pressure on your temples.

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How Is Treatment For Children Different

Generally speaking, most of the treatment we talk about on this website is viable for child migraines as well. The first things that you’ll want to look at are lifestyle adjustments and other non-drug treatment, such as biofeedback.

Most migraine drugs really haven’t been tested on children properly, so you need to move with caution. When it comes to drugs, your doctor will keep the dosages low, especially at first, while she monitors your child’s progress.

For young children, aspirin is not recommended. Your doctor may suggestacetaminophenor ibuprofen, and anti-nausea drug , a sedative or an abortive drug such as Midrin. If the migraines are very frequent most of the other options are open to children as well, though anticonvulsants are usually prescribed for adult and not child migraines.

A 2004 study was done with Imitrex nasal spray and children had hopeful results. Read the article here.

If you’re giving your child “painkillers” or migraine drugs more than twice per week, talk to your doctor and look at other options. Remember, when it comes to headache treatment, the keywords are patience and consistence. It takes time. Start with low dosages and take it from there.

Learn more about pediatric migraine medication here.

When To Call The Doctor When Your Child Has A Headache

What should I do if my baby gets a sunburn?
  • If it starts after an injury, specifically to the head.
  • If it worsens or becomes more frequent.
  • If it is accompanied by persistent vomiting, visual changes, speech changes, confusion, neck stiffness, or fever.
  • If it changes your babe√Ęs personality.
  • If it causes numbness, weakness, or paralysis on one side of her body or face.
  • If you notice a widespread purple or blood-colored rash on the body.

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Pharmacologic And Other Therapies

Management of pediatric migraine has 3 facets. First, educate patients and parents concerning migraine triggers. Second, formulate a plan of treatment for the acute attacks. Third, consider prophylaxis for patients with frequent migraines. The treatment of children with mild, infrequent attacks consists primarily of rest, trigger avoidance, and stress reduction.

Show Support By Asking

I never signed up to live in a Migraine household but that doesnt mean every moment has been dreadful. Suffering together and having an open dialogue has created a stronger bond between all of us.

The key to understanding the pain that my mom goes through is for me to ask about her battle with Migraine and to give her our collective support for such a crippling, isolating illness.

Every family is different, but I encourage you to incorporate some of the measures that Ive found useful through my second-hand suffering with your own mother or father.

Assuring them that youre also in this fight with them and understanding how to mitigate their pain will bring your family closer together and many more enjoyable moments together in the future.

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Does Your Child Have A Migraine Aura

The majority of children do not have an aura with their migraine, but some kids do. An aura is a collection of symptoms that come on before the actual migraine attack, like warning signs that the headache is coming.

Signs of an aura in children might include:

  • Seeing zig-zag lines
  • Feeling pinpricks moving down the arms and legs
  • Having difficulty speaking clearly

If your child has migraine with aura, these signs can help warn you of oncoming attacks so that you can take precautionary measures and treat the attack quickly.

What Triggers Migraine Attacks In Children

Migraine Headaches In Children
  • Just as with adults, migraines can be triggered by a range of factors.
  • Lack of sleep. This is certainly one trigger, especially in teens who tend to get two to three hours less sleep than their younger brothers and sisters. Too much sleep can also bring on a migraine.
  • Diet. This means healthy eating but also not missing meals. Overall, the best diet is a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits, and whole grains.
  • Menstruation. There is evidence that teenage girls may get more severe migraines just before or during their periods.
  • Dehydration. Encourage your child to drink water periodically during the day, even to get teacher permission during classes.
  • Stress. Its everywhere, even in grade school. Worries about tests, family problems, bullying and teasing all affect young people. Sometimes its hard to spot, so trying asking your child about these.

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Are There Other Types Of Migraine That Occur In Children And Adolescents

Yes, other types are grouped as either complicated migraine or migraine variants.

Complicated migraines are migraines with neurological symptoms, including:

  • Paralysis or weakness of the eye muscles that keep the eye in its normal position and control its movement. This was previously called an ophthalmoplegic migraine.
  • Weakness on one side of the body. This is called a hemiplegic migraine.
  • Pain at the base of the skull as well as numbness, tingling, visual changes and balance difficulties . This is called basilar migraine.
  • Confusion and speech and language problems. This is called confusional migraine and may also occur after a minor head injury.
  • Migraine variants are disorders in which the symptoms appear and disappear from time to time. Headache pain may be absent. Migraine variants are more common in children who have a family history of migraine or who will develop migraine later in life. Migraine variants include:
  • Paroxysmal vertigo dizziness and vertigo that is brief, sudden, intense, and recurs.
  • Paroxysmal torticollis sudden contraction of the neck muscles on one side of the head that causes the head to tilt to one side.
  • Cyclic vomiting uncontrolled vomiting that lasts about 24 hours and occurs every 60 to 90 days.
  • Abdominal migraine pain in the belly, usually near the belly button . Pain usually lasts 1 to 2 hours.

Types Of Headache In Toddlers


Dr Krishan Chugh, Director & HOD, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon says “the exact cause of migraine is not yet known. Some people say it is genetic but there is no concrete evidence to prove this.” Dr. Chugh further adds that the number of young children with migraine is on the rise.

“Children admitted feeling unusual sensations in their body, a feeling of chill, and seeing visions which are not real before they came down with migraine, says Dr. Chugh”.

The Huffington Post says you can look out for changes in your child’s behaviour before migraine. He may become excessively drowsy, unusually inactive, irritable and may have mood swings. Migraine is also characterised by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

Tension-related headache

Toddlers can also have headaches that may be caused by tension. This can manifest in the form of a stomachache, which gradually leads to toddler headaches. This headache is often caused by stress or poor sleep habits.

Cluster headache

When your toddler suffers from headaches that occur over a period, or even continuously for days, it means he has cluster a headache, says TheHealthSite. Again, there is no clear cause for cluster headache.

Unlike migraine, which can occur at any time, a cluster headache comes in many batches over a day or even a week.

Chronic headache


In toddlers, the first symptoms of meningitis are usually fever, vomiting and headache.

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When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider

  • You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
  • You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
  • Your headache comes on suddenly.
  • You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.

Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:

  • The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
  • Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.

What Is The Outlook For Children And Adolescents With Migraine

Controlling Kid’s Migraines

Treatment helps most children and adolescents with migraine. Fifty percent of children and adolescents report migraine improvement within 6 months after treatment. However, in about 60% of adolescents who experience their first migraine as an adolescent, the migraine may continue off and on for many years.

It should be noted that many of the medications listed in this handout have not been approved by the by the Food and Drug Administration for use in children and adolescents with headaches. This is a common practice in the field of medicine and is called off-label prescribing. It is one of the ways new and important uses are found for already approved drugs. Many times, positive findings lead to formal clinical trials of the drug for new conditions and indications.

Rehabilitation program. Some hospitals and/or other health care facilities offer inpatient headache management programs for children and adolescents ask your doctor if their facility offers such programs.

Patients typically accepted into these programs are those who have a chronic daily headache , missed an excessive amount of school, have overused over-the-counter medications, and have headache pain that is controlling their lives. The staff of such programs can include psychologists, pediatric rehabilitation specialists, occupational and physical therapists as well as access to a child psychiatrist. Stress factors are an important focus of this program not rapid changes in medications.


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What Can Parents And Caregivers Do For Their Child At Home

Preventing the migraine is the key to treatment. That means drinking lots of water, exercising every day , keeping a regular sleep schedule and eating three healthy meals per day. When a migraine does occur, a child should take a weight-appropriate dose of a pain reliever such as ibuprofen with a large volume of electrolyte-containing fluids like Gatorade.

What Causes Migraines

The exact cause of migraines isn’t known. Scientists think that they happen because some neurons stop working properly and send the wrong signals. This may affect the nerve system that regulates pain.

Whatever the cause, experts do agree that different things trigger migraines in people who have them.

Common migraine triggers include:

  • changes in hormone levels, such as from periods or birth control pill use
  • skipping meals
  • too much caffeine or withdrawal from caffeine
  • some foods
  • sudden changes in sleep patterns
  • weather changes

Also Check: What Is A Complex Migraine

What Is An Aura

An aura is a warning sign that a migraine is about to begin. An aura usually occurs about 30 minutes before a migraine starts. The most common auras are visual and include blurred or distorted vision blind spots or brightly colored, flashing, or moving lights or lines. Other auras may include changes in ability to speak, move, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Auras last about 20 minutes.

Secondhand Suffering Is Common Among Kids And Spouses Of People With Migraine

13 Things Not To Say To Someone With A Migraine

Ive experienced Migraine attacks second-hand for so long that its merely become normal to me. I cant count the number of baseball games, ceremonies, and family events that my mom has missed because of a sudden attack that left her bed-ridden, isolated, and in pain.

Growing up in a household where my mom has battled Migraine has taught me how to be sympathetic, resourceful, and grateful that I don’t suffer too. Knowing that an attack can happen at any moment to the woman who holds together our household keeps us on edge and can be stressful, to say the least.

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When Should I Take My Child To The Doctor

If a child has any of the following symptoms they should be seen immediately by their pediatrician or taken to urgent care or the emergency room: excessive vomiting or confusion, a seizure with headache, double vision or the sudden onset of a very severe headache. Other worrisome signs include increasingly frequent headaches or a headache that wakes your child from sleeping.

What Causes Abdominal Migraine

The cause of abdominal migraine is unknown. We dont know the exact connection between an abdominal migraine and a classic migraine, but we do know theres a connection between the gut and the brain, says Deena Kuruvilla, MD, a neurologist and specialist in facial and headache pain at Yale Medicine. Many of the drugs we use to treat depression, for example, are effective in treating an abdominal migraine.

Read Also: What Is A Cluster Migraine

Why Does Your Toddler Have A Headache

According to MayoClinic, several factors can lead to a headache:

1) Stress and anxiety, which are both emotional factors.

2) Head injuries like a bump or a bruise.

Note: Contact a doctor or seek immediate medical attention if your toddler falls hard on his head.

3) Illnesses like cold, flu and ear infections. Serious infections like meningitis can also cause a headache in children.

4) Foods that are high in preservatives or monosodium glutamate can also cause a headache.

5) Sometimes, recurring headaches in a toddler can also point out to something serious, such as a tumour.


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