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Migraine Headaches in Children

Millions of people suffer from migraines which are painful and can interfere with your life.  Unfortunately even children may suffer from migraines.

There are medical options for treating migraines.  Of course, treating children is often tricky and the treatment that children receive is different from the treatment that adults get.   Treatment of medical migraines in kids works within a standard set of actions.  Theses actions include teaching both kids and their guardians about migraine triggers, creating an action plan to implement when an attack takes place, and looking into the possibility of preventive treatments for children who have frequent migraines.


Migraine Headaches in ChildrenParent and child education is important for the treatment of migraines.  Commonly doctors will suggest that people keep a headache journal.  A headache journal is used to write down causes and specific details of migraines. It’s important to note that a trigger may happen up to 12 hours before an attack. These triggers should be noted in the journal.  Also make sure to include the following details:

    • Time and day of the attack
    • Location of pain and type of pain (sharp, throbbing, etc.)
    • Any symptoms that may have occurred before the migraine
    • A list of food and drink consumed
    • A record of sleep activity
    • Things the child was doing prior to the headache beginning
    • Any over the counter or prescription medications taken

Unfortunately, even the most attentive caregiver does not always notice triggers. The doctor should clearly explain the disease to the child and the parents or caregivers.

Most migraines are primary disorders.  They are not caused by other diseases or illnesses. The doctor should also assure parents that the headache is not caused by a brain tumor or other life-threatening condition. A regular bedtime, strict meal schedules, and not overloading the child with too many activities are important.

Initial treatment

Migraine Headaches in ChildrenWhen migraine symptoms occur, the child should lie down in a room without light that is a comfortable temperature and without noise. Hopefully he or she will fall asleep. Sleep is the best treatment.

The same things that help adult migraine sufferers also can help children.  Some children find that extreme cold (ice) applied with gentle pressure to the affected area may lessen pain for a while. Some over the counter drugs are effective if taken early. Common over-the-counter medications that may be slightly helpful for a child migraine include ibuprofen and naproxen. Acetaminophen can be used as well but is often not that effective at pain control. Do not use aspirin for children or adolescents.

Keep in mind that digestion sometimes becomes very slow during migraine attacks and may delay the absorption of medications. Sometimes, carbonated beverages can help with absorption. Beware of soda as the sugar may exacerbate the migraine.

Therapy and Prevention

Keep in mind that the main goal of preventive therapy is the prevention of migraine attacks. The secondary goal is to lessen the severity of attacks. Think carefully before medicating a child. Many preventive migraine treatments and medications have some side effects.  Children with weekly attacks are the best candidates for these medications.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the Editor. Results may vary from person to person and cannot be guaranteed.

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