Migraine is a type of recurring headache. It involves blood vessels, nerves, and brain chemicals. Sensations may come before a migraine. This can include visual changes or numbness and tingling, called auras. 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 cause is unknown. Among the suspected causes are genetics and environmental triggers. Migraines may be caused by changes in a nerve that serves as a major pain pathway. An imbalance in brain chemicals, like serotonin, may also play a role.
Factors that increase your child’s chance for 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. If the doctor suspects other conditions, she might do tests to rule these out, 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.
Many of the medicines used to treat or prevent migraine headaches in adults are not currently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat migraine headaches in children. However, your child’s doctor may decide to prescribe your child medicines used for adults.
If your child is diagnosed with a migraine, follow the doctor's instructions.
Methods for preventing migraine include:
Suggestions for your child include:
American Headache Society
The National Migraine Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
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8/27/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : 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 June 2012 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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