Migraine is a type of recurring headache that involves blood vessels, nerves, and brain chemicals. Sensations called auras may come before a migraine. Auras can include visual changes or numbness and tingling. There are two types of migraines:
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Migraine headaches can affect a child’s performance in school, relationships with friends and family, and other factors in a child’s life.
The precise reason that a child is susceptible to migraines is unknown. Factors that may play a role include:
Factors that can trigger a migraine include:
Factors that increase your child’s chance of migraines may include:
Migraines occur in phases that may include:
A warning may come before a migraine. In the hours or days before the headache, symptoms may include:
The most common aura is visual. The aura lasts about 15-30 minutes. It may produce the following sensations:
Migraine pain starts within an hour of the aura ending. Symptoms include:
Migraines usually last from 4-72 hours. They often go away with sleep. After the headache, your child may experience:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your child may also be given a neurological exam. The diagnosis is often based on your child's symptoms. To rule out other complications, your doctor may order imaging tests such as:
The doctor may order blood tests or other tests before starting treatment.
Migraine therapy aims to:
Treatment options include:
Medicines often used as first line agents in children with headaches include:
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye's syndrome. Ask your doctor which other medicines are safe for your child.
Your doctor may also recommend migraine medication.
To help your child during a migraine:
Keep a diary to understand what factors may trigger your child's migraines.
Some steps that may help prevent future migraines includes:
Since the cause of migraines is unclear, there are no steps to prevent your child's predisposition to migraines.
American Headache Society
The National Migraine Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Headache in Children. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headach... . Accessed June 24, 2013.
Migraine in Children and Adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated April 22, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2013.
Migraines. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydocto... . Accessed June 24, 2013.
8/27/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Robberstad L, Dyb G, Hagen K, Stovner LJ, Holmen TL, Zwart JA. An unfavorable lifestyle and recurrent headaches among adolescents: The HUNT Study. Neurology. 2010;75(8):712-717.
10/25/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Bruijn J, Locher H, Passchier J, Dijkstra N, Arts WF. Psychopathology in children and adolescents with migraine in clinical studies: a systematic review. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):323-332.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013