Do Children Get Migraines? What Parents Need to Know

Headaches are very common in children and teens. More than half of them will experience a headache at some point, and by age 18, the majority of teens have had one. And while most headaches are part of a viral illness, some are migraines. In fact, up to one in 10 children and teens overall experience recurrent migraine attacks.

What should you know—and do—if you think your child or teen might have migraines?

How early do migraine attacks occur?

We don’t usually think of migraines in children, but by age 10, one in 20 children has had a migraine. And sometimes migraine attacks occur even earlier.

Before puberty, boys and girls are equally likely to suffer from them. After puberty, migraine attacks are more common in girls.

What are the most common migraine symptoms in children?

Migraine attacks in adults are often one-sided. In children, they are more likely to be felt on both sides of the head, either in both temples or on both sides of the forehead.

Although it’s not always easy to distinguish a migraine from another type of headache, children

often report throbbing pain

may experience nausea and sensitivity to light and noise.

Do Children Get Migraines? What Parents Need to Know

The flashing lights and other visual disturbances that people often see at the start of a migraine are less common in children. However, parents may notice that their child is more tired, irritable, or pale before a migraine begins—and it takes a while for them to return to normal after the migraine ends.

What causes migraines in children?

We don’t know exactly what causes migraines. We used to think it had to do with blood flow to the brain, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems that migraines are caused by the nerves being more sensitive and reactive to stimuli. These stimuli can be stress, fatigue, hunger, or almost anything else.

Migraines run in families. In fact, most people who get migraines have someone in their family who also gets migraines.

Can migraines be prevented?

The best way to prevent migraines is to identify and avoid triggers. Triggers are different for everyone, which is why it’s a good idea to keep a headache diary.

When your child gets a headache, write down what happened before the headache, how much it hurt and where, what helped, and anything else you can think of. This will help you and your doctor identify patterns that can help you understand your child’s specific triggers.

It’s a good idea to make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats regular, healthy meals, drinks water regularly, gets exercise, and manages stress. Not only does this help prevent migraines, it’s good for overall health too!

How can you help your child relieve a migraine?

When a migraine strikes, sometimes simply lying down in a dark, quiet room with a cool cloth on the forehead is enough. If not, ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be helpful; your doctor can tell you what dose is best for your child.

It’s important that you don’t give your child these medications more than about 14 days a month, as giving them more often can lead to rebound headaches and make things worse!

Do Children Get Migraines? What Parents Need to Know

Are there prescription medications that can help children with migraines?

If these approaches aren’t enough, a class of medications called triptans may be helpful in stopping migraines in children as young as 6.

If a child has frequent or severe migraines, causing them to miss school or have other life disruptions, doctors often use migraine prevention medications. There are a number of different types and your doctor can advise you on what is best for your child.

Some girls get migraines around their period. If this happens frequently, sometimes it can be helpful to take a preventative medication around menstruation each month.

When to contact your doctor

If you think your child may have migraines, you should call and make an appointment. Bring the headache diary with you. Your doctor will ask a series of questions, perform a physical exam, and make a diagnosis. Together, you can work out the best plan for your child.

You should always call your doctor or go to the emergency room if your child has a severe headache, a stiff neck, problems with coordination or movement, is unusually sleepy, or is not speaking or behaving normally.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more useful information on its websiteInformation about migraines and their treatment and prevention.

sam, as the organisms can form resistant spores.

Take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and for the shortest period of time possible. “The most important thing we can do is advocate for ourselves,” says Dr. Allegretti. “We know that during cold and flu season, many unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written for infections that are most likely viral, not bacterial, in nature. Antibiotics do not kill viruses – and unnecessary antibiotics can upset the bacterial balance in your gut. Ask your doctor:

Do you need this recipe? Is there an alternative?"

If you need antibiotics, ask if a narrow-spectrum antibiotic would be effective for your type of infection. Why? Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill a broader spectrum of bacteria. This can be overkill, unnecessarily weakening your gut microbiome and allowing C. diff bacteria to germinate. “The caveat is that we don’t want patients to not take the antibiotics they need for an actual infection,” she says. “But talk to your healthcare team.”

The type of antibiotic prescribed also plays a role, according to a 2023 study in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Researchers compared more than 159,000 people with C. diff infection with 797,000 healthy controls. The study results suggest that the use of clindamycin and later-generation cephalosporin antibiotics pose the greatest risk for C. diff infection. Meanwhile, the antibiotics minocycline and doxycycline were the most likely to cause C. diff infection. lowest risk.

“But there are very few safe antibiotics in terms of C. diff risk,” says Dr. Allegretti.