Kids and Migraines

It used to be said that kids don’t get headaches, much less, migraines.  That’s not what physicians and researchers say any more.

Most children get headaches and many of them have gotten some pretty intense migraines.  Migraine headaches are usually a pounding type of headache on one side of the head or the other of the temple or behind the eye. 

Up to 5% of school aged children get migraine headaches.  The percentages increase as children get older, topping at 20% for high school aged children and adolescents.  Girls suffer from migraines more often than boys do, often having them two or more times per week.

Some children say that their migraines make them feel like throwing up.  Others say that they feel like their heart is pounding in their chest when they have a migraine, or they feel like they are in a huge bass drum when a migraine hits.  They also report feeling like they need to lie down in a dark room.

These symptoms are very similar – and some of them are the same – as adult symptoms of migraines.  The causes are the same, too.  Smells, foods, stress, being too tired and eating certain foods can all be triggers to migraines.  The foods and smells vary depending on the child but additives, such as MSG, smoked or processed meats with nitrites, nuts and pickles can be triggers.

Some children get migraines that are bad enough, often enough so that the doctor prescribes medication for the child.  Instructions will be given as to what to do if a migraine comes on, and how to handle the situation.  As with adults, lying in a dark, quiet room can help.  Using an ice pack can also help. 

If you have a child or adolescent that suffers from frequent headaches – especially migraines – take them to see their doctor.  The doctor will perform tests and do a thorough examination and will probably prescribe medication to help tame the migraines when they come on. 

Take these headaches seriously.  They are not life-threatening, however, they are very uncomfortable, and now that there is more information and a variety of medication available to deal with them, there is no reason for children to suffer with migraines the way they did before research provided us with answers


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