Migraines in Kids



Migraines are bad for adults, but when our kids have to deal with them, that’s even worse. Headaches are not just an adult problem. By age 15, 5 percent of all kids have had migraines and 15 percent have had tension headaches. By keeping track of triggers and symptoms, parents and kids can keep migraines manageable.

Migraines are different from headaches in that they come on suddenly and can involve other symptoms, including nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and bright light sensitivity. The pain is often located around the eyes, the forehead region or the temples (EMedicineHealth.com). While the cause of migraines is unknown, many people do notice a trigger—anything from a certain weather pattern to a particular item they eat or drink. Why these triggers cause a response in certain people and not in others is unknown. Oftentimes, genetics play a role as well.

There is no one way to diagnose migraines, but the doctor will want to see the big picture: how often the migraines occur, symptoms, any triggers and coping mechanisms. Many times the doctor will order tests to rule out other ailments.          

The FDA has not approved many medications to use with children, but many doctors will prescribe those limited medications with few to no side effects for the child. Because each case is different, finding a treatment plan that works best for your child can take some trial and some time. For many children with mild or less frequent migraines, the treatment of choice is sleep. Assist the child in going to a dark, quiet room where he can fall asleep easily, and when he wakes, the pain often will be gone. Some children report ice packs can help the pain, as well as over-the-counter NSAIDS (ibuprofen) to reduce the pain (EMedicineHealth.com). The more effective treatment is avoiding trigger events and thereby reducing the frequency of the migraines.

 

Jessica Heine is a labor and delivery nurse. She lives in Olathe with her family.

 

As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.

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