- Acute head pain, often in one, concentrated location
- Aura, sometimes experienced as “seeing stars”
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and smells
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Anti-nausea medication
- Prescription pain relievers that target the neurological source of the migraine
- Daily medication to prevent migraines
What causes migraines in children?
Contrary to popular belief, migraines aren’t typical headaches—they’re not caused by inflammation, as most headaches are. Migraines are neurological in nature, which is why medications like triptans, which stimulate serotonin to constrict blood vessels in the brain, work so well for so many people prone to migraine attacks.
There are a number of common triggers which can cause migraine attacks, including:
- Certain foods or beverages. Foods high in nitrates, like bacon and hot dogs, often cause migraines, along with tannic foods like grapes. Caffeine-laden foods and drinks like soda, chocolate, and some teas can also contribute. Different people report different triggers, so if you notice that your child often contracts a migraine after eating something specific, try to remove that food from their diet. Keeping a food diary for your child can help pinpoint triggers.
- Genetics. If you have a family history of migraines, your child might have a predisposition. Migraines are often confused for simple headaches or other health issues, though, so it’s a good idea to talk to your parents and grandparents about any pattern of migraine symptoms they may have noticed throughout their lives, even if they were never formally diagnosed.
- Stress and anxiety. Emotional factors can be major contributors to migraine attacks. At first glance, it may be tough to consider what kinds of stress and anxiety a child can experience, but the reality is that stress and anxiety are often common in a child’s life.
Anything from a struggle with a peer that a child silently deals with to a teacher that doesn’t account for a child’s learning style can cause stress or anxiety in your child’s life. Children with depression or depressive tendencies are also at higher risk of stress and anxiety, so it’s important to be aware of that connection and how it may play a role in your child’s migraines.
- Keeping them healthy. Make sure your child gets enough sleep every night, exercises daily, eats healthy, and gets plenty of water. These are essential steps for providing the body with everything it needs to keep migraines at bay.
- Reducing stress. What might be causing stress in your child’s life? What steps can you take to reduce that stress? Try to open a dialogue with your child about stress management, and reach out to a mental health professional if you need assistance.
- Keeping a migraine log. Keep a daily journal in which you document your child’s diet, behavior, sleep patterns, and anything else you think might be contributing to their migraine attacks. This can help you find patterns of triggers to avoid in the future.
If left untreated
If left untreated, migraines can drastically reduce your child’s quality of life. There’s nothing worse than your child having to sit things like school days, baseball games, and birthday parties out to recover from a migraine.
Luckily, DispatchHealth can help. We provide in-home treatment for pediatric migraines, allowing your child to stay in bed while we administer treatment in the low-sensory environment of your home. Our services cost a fraction of the cost of an emergency room visit and about the same as a trip to the urgent care without all the added hassle of traveling and waiting in bright waiting rooms. We also accept most major insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer an affordable flat rate for uninsured patients. We’re ready and waiting to provide the help you need for non-life-threatening conditions—request care online, through our app, or over the phone.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil Mitchell MD, MS on October 3rd, 2019