Migraine Headaches in Children

Jun 11, 2024 | News, Wellness Care

By Joanna Storey, MD

Unfortunately, headaches are common in kids. And migraines can plague children and teens as well adults. Sorting out the cause of a pediatric headache can be tricky, but a few features help distinguish migraines from other types of headaches.

1. Migraines tend to be more severe. Kids with migraines often find it hard to carry on with their usual activities due to pain. Sometimes, all a migraine sufferer is able to do is lie down and go to sleep in a dark room.

2. Migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms. These can include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, visual disturbances like blurry vision or seeing spots, and even temporary weakness or paralysis of arms and legs.

3. Migraines often run in families. About 50% of children of parents with migraines will also suffer from these types of headaches.

4. Migraine pain is most often felt on the front of the head, over one eye or the other or in the center of the forehead.

The diagnosis of a migraines rests with taking a thorough history and performing a physical exam to exclude other medical causes. Occasionally, lab work or imaging studies like an MRI can be helpful in excluding other causes.

When migraines are suspected, prevention strategies can include reducing stress, getting regular sleep and physical activity, and avoiding dehydration. I often advise my patients to keep a headache diary noting the time of day of the headache, its severity and duration, and any life circumstances that might help point to the cause (meal times, sleep quality, etc.) to try to identify triggers for the headaches. Over the counter analgesics like Tylenol and ibuprofen can help treat a headache when it strikes.

For kids with frequent migraines, daily medications can help with prevention. Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) is a safe and well-tolerated supplement that can prevent migraines for some. A number of prescribed medications can also reduce headache frequency.

If your child suffers from recurrent headaches, there is often helpful intervention available. Contact us to schedule a consultation with your child’s CMG doctor.

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