Some parents, even those with migraines themselves, are surprised that children also suffer from this condition. As in adults, it is more common in females and often more common after menses start but younger children and males can also suffer from a migraine.
How is a migraine different from a regular headache?
Many but not all migraines are on one side of the head. The level of pain is also very intense – to the point of being disabling. It is often accompanied by light, sound, and odor sensitivity. Many people have nausea or vomit with migraines. Most people will report laying down in a dark room and sleeping helps resolve a headache. Many people with migraines, migraineurs, have family members with the same condition.
How can migraines be treated?
Most migraine medications work better if taken at the start of a migraine before symptoms escalate. Many are helped by ibuprofen. It is also helpful to drink plenty of water and rest in a quiet environment. For those over the age of 12 triptan medications can abort a headache. These can be used about once a week. Some people find antihistamines helpful such as diphenhydramine. For those with nausea that can be treated with a medication such a prochlorperazine or ondansetron.
What if you have migraines more than once a week?
Taking medication such as ibuprofen or triptans too often can actually cause more headaches. If headaches occur frequently a different type of medication can be taken daily to prevent headaches. Some people find benefit from there quickly – for, others it can take 6 weeks to take effect. The easiest to try to prevent migraines is 400mg magnesium and 400mg riboflavin. One formulation with both of these is Headache Free brand multivitamin. Another over the counter preventive is MigRelief which contains magnesium, riboflavin, and feverfew. Feverfew causes aches and pains in some so I do not routinely recommend this. All products with high doses of riboflavin will change the urine bright yellow which is harmless. There are also prescriptions that can reduce headache frequency. These include topiramate, amitryptiline/nortryptyline, venlafaxine, verapamil, and valproic acid. A large study in children found that placebo, topiramate, and amitriptyline all worked equally to prevent headaches which were surprising. Although in a study on average there was not much benefit certainly in many individuals some find benefit. Regular exercise, yoga, and acupuncture can also be helpful.
Many people find certain things trigger headaches. For example, dehydration, skipping meals, and lack of sleep trigger migraines in many. Some get migraines from strong odors. For some foods such as chocolate or MSG are issues. For some alcohol and caffeine are problems. It is useful to find out what your individual triggers are and work to avoid them. Certain healthy habits can benefit all migraineurs such as drinking plenty of water, never skipping meals, getting enough rest, and limiting caffeine and any other dietary triggers.
In all no one needs to suffer from migraines – there are plenty of options for relief!