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Is My Child Suffering From Migraines?

Is My Child Suffering From Migraines?

If your child complains of severe headaches, there's a good chance they have migraines. Children of any age can develop a migraine, even children as young as 18 months.

These extraordinarily painful headaches affect 10% of children between the ages of 5-15 and up to 28% of teens. 

If your child has headaches, it's crucial to have them evaluated by the team at THINK Neurology for Kids. Migraines require a different type of treatment than other headaches, and with the proper treatment, we can reduce the frequency and severity of your child's migraines.

Parents' guide to children's migraines

Migraines are more complex than a typical headache. For years, the experts debated about what causes a migraine. Today we know that these headaches involve multiple structures.

Your child's migraine begins when something triggers the nerves in their head. The nerves send out a burst of electrical signals, activating a stream of biochemical reactions that affect blood vessels. As a result, a painful migraine begins.

Though each child has their migraine triggers, some of the most common include:

Foods that often trigger a migraine include chocolate, cheese, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners. Food additives can cause a migraine, as can foods high in histamines, including dried fruits, fermented foods, and processed meats.

Children's migraine symptoms

Migraines go through different stages. Your child may not experience all the stages, or if they’re young, they may not mention symptoms before their headache begins.

Stage 1: Warning signs

The day before a migraine, some children feel tired, or their mood changes. They could also have a stiff neck.

Stage 2: Aura

This stage affects 15-30% of children. Aura refers to changes that appear about 30 minutes before their headache pain begins.

Aura most often affects vision. Your child may see spots, squiggly lines, and flashing or moving lights. Some children may experience other changes such as numbness, weakness, or confusion.

Stage 3: Migraine attack

Migraines typically begin on one side of the head (near the temple) and cause severe, throbbing pain. During the migraine, the pain could expand and include both sides of their head.

Migraines are unique for causing additional, body-wide symptoms, such as:

Without treatment, a child’s migraine lasts at least 2 hours and can go as long as 72 hours.

Stage 4: Resolution

At this stage, the pain goes away, and your child usually sleeps. However, some children may have residual symptoms like fatigue or moodiness that last a few hours to several days. 

Migraine variations in children

Children may experience complicated migraines, which are migraines together with neurological symptoms such as:

Your child could also have a migraine variant. Variants are confusing because these symptoms randomly appear and disappear, with or without the headache pain.

Migraine variants in children include:

Abdominal migraine

If your child has an abdominal migraine, they have stomach pain, usually around their belly button. This type of migraine lasts 1-72 hours, depending on if your child gets treatment.

Paroxysmal vertigo

Paroxysmal vertigo refers to sudden, brief, and intense dizziness and vertigo. These episodes typically recur.

Cyclic vomiting

Cyclic vomiting means your child has uncontrolled vomiting that lasts up to 24 hours and occurs every 2-3 months.

THINK Neurology for Kids offers a wide range of treatments that reduce the severity of children’s migraines and help prevent future migraines. To schedule an appointment, call or book an appointment online today.

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