Migraines in children are a common and complex neurological issue with a variety of different symptoms, not just head pain. Migraines in children are actually quite common and have been reported in children as young as 18 months old.

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In fact, roughly 10% of children who are old enough to attend school suffer from migraines and ½ of every migraine patient experiences their first attack before age 12.

According to studies, before puberty, boys experience migraines more frequently than girls. However, the closer girls get to adolescence, migraines become more common.

This article will outline everything you need to know about migraines in children in order to properly recognize, diagnose, and treat the issue.

Causes of Migraines in Children

The exact cause of migraines in children is unknown. However, there are many predictions available that are beneficial to know in the process of helping a suffering child.

As doctors have assumed through studies, the cause of migraines in children could be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children with one parent who experiences migraines are 50% more likely to inherit the issue.

Some migraines in children are believed to be because of a serotonin deficiency in the brain, which is why many medications seen as effective in treating migraines target this chemical.

Some children who experience migraines believe they are caused by something they have consumed or a specific activity.

Some of these triggers include:

  • Dairy
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • MSG-rich foods such as Chinese cuisine
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine

However, even though it's beneficial to know these triggers, migraines can be very unpredictable and can vary from child to child.

One of the most important things a family can do for their young sufferer is to learn which things trigger an attack. It has also been proven that it's not usually one specific food or activity that triggers an attack, but a combination of factors.

By noticing and pinpointing these triggers, you can begin to teach your child how to live a healthy lifestyle from an early age.

Symptoms of Migraines in Children

Symptoms of migraines differ between individuals and can sometimes be different depending on the attack or how often the attacks occur.

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Migraines also affect children a bit differently than adults. Typically, children who suffer from migraines experience the following symptoms:

  • Entire head pain as opposed to one side or specific part of the head
  • Shorter attacks, sometimes lasting less than an hour
  • Nausea or vomiting after an attack. This can sometimes be seen as the end of a migraine and will be followed by relief
  • Abdominal pain
  • Car sickness can be an indicator that a migraine is beginning
  • Sudden pain
  • Sensitivity to noise and light
  • Lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • Disturbed vision or aura symptoms

Number of Children Who Suffer from Migraines

Roughly 70% of children suffer from headaches at least once every year, and for every four children, one of them will experience recurring headaches.

While most parents usually ask if children will grow out of the migraine attacks, the answer isn't simple. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

One study discovered that out of 10 young migraine sufferers, four children will experience improved headache conditions.

By managing these migraines properly from a young age, parents can help improve these statistics and save their child from experiencing long-term symptoms.

While it's unfortunate to learn that many children experience these awful symptoms, it's spurred a lot of research and discussion on the topic, which can prove very helpful for families dealing with migraines in their children.

Final Thoughts: How to Support a Child Suffering from Migraines

There are many ways to help a young migraine sufferer and, therefore, many ways to improve the condition, as well as help prevent long-term symptoms from occurring.

First, make sure you reassure your child. Obtain a proper diagnosis from your family doctor, along with expert advice on how to treat the issue.

Next, make sure to record your child's headaches. Encourage your child to keep their own headache diary. This will pinpoint potential triggers and help them learn how to predict when a migraine is about to occur. This will then help everyone become more prepared for the migraine.

Also, make sure to watch your child closely. This will give you a sense of when they’re about to experience an attack. Watching closely will allow you to take note of the specific warning signs that can come about 2-48 hours prior to a migraine occurring.

Read up on this article for more information on early warning signs for migraines in children. 

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