Headaches are very common in children and adolescents. An estimated 20 percent of adult headache sufferers say they started before age 10. Dr. A. David Rothner, a pediatric neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, says there are two early warning signs when it comes to kids and the development of migraines.
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“There are two disorders that are thought to be related to migraine,” Dr. Rothner explains. “One is colic, and one is car-sickness. So, if a kid gets car sickness, some people feel that that’s a harbinger of migraine to come.”
Dr. Rothner says migraine in younger children is more common in boys, but after puberty it’s more common in girls. Many of them have a parent or parents who are migraine sufferers, and triggers can range from stress to food. He says children with a migraine will be pale, quiet or grouchy, and try to avoid light and noise. He also says a severe attack may even cause a child to vomit.
Dr. Rothner says parents should not ignore any of these symptoms, and when it comes to treatment, the approach evolves as the child gets older.
“If a child has frequent migraines, we frequently put them on a medication daily or nightly in an attempt to prevent the migraine attacks. As the youngsters become teenagers, we begin to use medicines like the triptans like we use in adults for children,” he said.
Dr. Rothner says dietary changes may also help. Making sure the child gets eight hours of sleep, six glasses of water, and regular exercise can decrease the frequency and severity of migraine headaches in children.