Today’s Solutions: February 05, 2023

Migraine treatment options have expanded in recent years, but the majority of migraine-related therapies focus on adults, not children. You might be wondering, can children get migraines? The answer is yes. Here’s how to figure out if your child may be experiencing them.

Migraine symptoms in children 

Although not terribly common, migraines do affect three percent of children ages three to seven, 11 percent of kids ages seven to 11, and up to 23 percent of kids by age 15 in the US. For children who lack the verbal skills to iterate what they are experiencing, it can be difficult to diagnose migraines. Even for older children, a lack of familiarity with migraines can make it hard to describe what they are experiencing.

Migraines are more pronounced than headaches related to dehydration or a virus, and they generally come with other symptoms. Experts recommend looking for signs in children such as grabbing their heads, asking to retreat under covers or a lack of appetite. Family members can also offer clues as up to 70 percent of people with migraines also have a sibling or parent who experiences them.

If you suspect that your child is experiencing migraines, start by scheduling a visit to the pediatrician who can rule out other potential illnesses and refer you to a specialist.

Treating migraines in children 

A specialist will likely work with your child to figure out the best treatment plan, but to start with, ibuprofen or acetaminophen paired with a cool washcloth on the forehead work best to reduce pain as soon as the migraine starts. Down the line, doctors may also prescribe anti-nausea medication or triptans, another migraine medication. Fortunately, childhood migraines are usually much shorter than adult migraines, which can last more than a day. For children, a couple of hours is the average duration of a migraine.

Preventative strategies for children include ensuring they are getting three meals a day and plenty of snacks as well as sticking to a regular sleep schedule. If you think your child may be experiencing migraines, it’s important to schedule a doctor’s visit as soon as possible. Migraine symptoms can also be linked to serious medical issues like a congenital brain problem or meningitis.

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