Headache is not just an adult problem. Migraine is the most common acute and recurrent headache pattern experienced by children. In early childhood and before puberty, migraines are more common in boys. In adolescence, migraines affect girls more. As adults, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraine than adult males.

You may be worried that child migraines are a sign of a more serious problem, such as a brain tumor, but this does not apply to most cases of child headaches. Although about half of children who have migraines will continue to experience these complaints when they are adults, migraines are not a serious or life-threatening disorder.

You can track the symptoms of child migraines and find the treatment here, so you can help the child to feel better.

What are the symptoms of migraine in kids?

The symptoms of child migraine are slightly different than adults. Here’s the explanation:

  • Headache often affects the whole head not just one side, but maybe the pain feels more centered on one side; the pain is throbbing or dull; shorter, shorter attacks, sometimes lasting less than 1 hour, often improving in two to four hours; headaches may get worse if the child does even mild activity.
  • The headache may be gone, but the child may feel unwell or sick and this may be worse than the headache. Sometimes, an unwell complaint signals the end of a child’s migraine attack and can bring relief.
  • Complaining a stomachache without a headache
  • Frequently, motion sickness is an indication of child migraine
  • Headaches can come very suddenly, and the child may feel severe pain in less than 15 minutes
  • Weak, lethargic
  • Vision is impaired
  • Sensitive to light and sound
  • Spinning head; nauseous vomit; looks pale
  • Lack of appetite
  • Eyelid drooping and pupils dilated – associated with migraine oftalmoplegia
  • Weakness of the body only on one side (like a stroke) – associated with migraine hemiplegia
  • Some common infant syndromes, such as vomiting for several hours, restlessly altering the position of the head while lying on your side, dizziness, and colic may be a predictor of migraine in later adult life.

The symptoms of childhood migraines vary from one child to another, and can even differ from one attack to the next. Some children who are susceptible to migraine headaches only occasionally, others may have attacks every week, other children may suffer from migraines almost daily. Similarly, some children suffer daily attacks for several weeks, but then have no further attacks for several months. Other children may experience migraines in a monthly or weekly routine.

What causes migraine in Children?

Most children experience headaches due to illness, infection, or fever. Migraine is a different story. Doctors do not know exactly what causes migraines, although they know that migraine is associated with changes in arterial size changes inside and outside the brain, as well as chemical structures in the brain. In many cases, childhood migraine is a derivative condition in the family. If one parent has a history of migraine, the child has a 50% chance of developing a migraine, and if both parents have a history of migraine, the child’s risk jumps to 75 percent.

In many cases of child and adolescent migraines, headaches are triggered by external factors. Triggers can vary for each child. Some common migraine triggers include:

  • Emotional stress: Migraine sufferers are generally severely affected by stressful events. Emotions caused during stress, such as anxiety, worry, and fatigue can increase muscle tension and dilation of blood vessels, thus increasing the severity of migraine headaches.
  • Sleep patterns: Some children may get migraines if their sleep patterns are impaired. This can include having too much sleep, as well as insufficient sleep. Setting a morning wake-up schedule and a regular night’s sleep can help avoid developing attacks.

  • Diet: Skipping meals or eating sugary snacks can contribute to migraine attacks. Both lower blood sugar levels and can cause migraine. A regular three-time meal can help.

  • Daily routine: For some children, sudden physical exercise, such as running, can trigger a migraine attack. Glare and flashing light from a computer screen or TV can trigger a migraine. Being in a room with bright lights and / or loud sounds also triggers child migraines. Weather changes such as rainstorms, strong winds, or altitude changes can also trigger migraines.

How to treat migraine in children?

There is no cure for migraine. The goal of treatment is to control your child’s current symptoms and prevent migraines from getting worse. 

If your child has migraines, follow the treatment steps below:

1. Control the symptoms

If the migraine has been diagnosed by doctors, please do the following.

  • Give ibuprofen or paracetamol (not aspirin) to relieve pain in the early stages of headache
  • Paste cold compress on the child’s forehead
  • Ask the child to take a deep breath and throw it away slowly
  • Lay the child in a dark, quiet, cold room
  • Sleeping, even for as little as 15 minutes helps migraine attacks go away.
  • Your child may find that eating nutritious snacks in small portions but consumed regularly can help control migraine attacks.
  • In addition, multiply drinking fluids
  • Many children are more vulnerable to getting migraines when they are not feeling well for other reasons. For example, you may find that child migraines often recur when they are having a cold or stomach ache. Treating underlying conditions can help control migraines Anything that has triggered migraines in the past should be avoided if possible.

2. Go to the doctor

Go to the doctor, if:

  • Recurrent headache, worsens after treatment, or lasts more than 12 hours
  • Severe migraine headaches accompanied by fever, vomiting, and neck stiffness
  • The child’s head is injured before getting a headache
  • You feel your child is not looking good or his condition is worrisome

Other kinds of recurring headaches, like migraines or tension headaches, are often mistaken for sinus headaches. Because the treatment you need depends on what kind of headache you have, it’s important to figure out if your symptoms are caused by your sinuses. If a sinus blockage, such as an infection, really is the cause, you’ll likely have a fever. Doctors can usually make a diagnosis of child migraines after carefully listening to the story and checking your child. For a handful of children, a series of tests can be performed to rule out other causes of headache complaints. Most children do not need any tests, and no medical tests can prove a migraine diagnosis. To treat childhood migraine attacks very often, these preventive medications may be prescribed.


Is your children having migraine headache? Are you looking for headache and migraine treatment for your children? Call 6476 2106 today for an appointment with Dr Mathew Tung, our brain and spine neurosurgeon for proper diagnosis and an effective treatment for Migraine in Children.

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