A migraine headache is a type of headache that can last for hours to days. It can cause intense pain as well as other symptoms. For example, you may have changes in your vision just before or during the headache, or you may feel sick to your stomach during the headache.
The exact cause of migraines is not known. They may be related to a problem with the blood flow in the brain, or they may happen with changes in brain chemicals and hormones, such as the female hormone estrogen. You may find that your migraine headaches seem related to:
Migraines may tend to run in families.
Most children with migraines have warning symptoms before the migraine starts. Not every child has the same symptoms, but each child may have a pattern with their symptoms. Symptoms that your child may have in the minutes, hours, or even a few days before a migraine include:
Your child may also have vision changes about 30 minutes before his or her head starts hurting. Your child may lose all or part of his or her vision for a brief time or see bright spots or zigzag patterns. Your child may also have tingling, numbness, or weakness. These warning symptoms are called migraine aura. Aura symptoms usually start gradually and go away within 20 minutes. Usually aura symptoms go away before the headache begins, but some children have aura symptoms at the same time as the headache. Aura symptoms are more common in adults than children.
Migraine symptoms usually last from 30 minutes to 2 days and may include:
After the headache goes away, your child may have some of these symptoms for a day or so:
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. There are no lab tests or X-rays for diagnosing migraine headaches.
It will help if you keep a record of:
A headache diary can help your child’s healthcare provider know if your child has migraines, or if your child’s headaches are caused by tension, allergies, or other problems. Your child may have tests or scans to check for other possible causes of the symptoms.
Medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help treat milder migraines. Check with your healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto-Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a rare, serious illness called Reye's syndrome.
When your child starts having signs of a migraine:
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests. Contact your child’s healthcare provider if your child has new or worsening symptoms.
Prevention is an important part of treatment. To help prevent migraine headaches:
Take note of the possible triggers of your child's headaches and help your child avoid these things in the future. Regular exercise and keeping a routine for eating and sleeping may help keep your child from having a lot of migraines.
Many children have fewer migraines as they get older.
You can get more information from: