Treatments for Children’s Migraine Headaches
Children can develop migraines just like adults do. Your child may experience sudden and severe pain behind her eyes, accompanied by a sick feeling in the stomach. Pay attention to your child’s headache complaints to ensure you are able to inform the doctor of symptoms and potential environmental causes.
Migraines cause head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and stomachaches. Children may also experience tension headaches, characterized by a tight feeling on both sides of the head.
If your child experiences headaches more than 15 days each month, he or she may have chronic daily headaches, which often result from taking pain medications too frequently.
Cluster headaches, the least common headache in children, often disable children with sharp, stabbing pains on one side of the head.
Take your child to the doctor if headaches occur at least once each month and present with vomiting and fever. Also visit the doctor if a headache arises following an injury.
Migraines tend to run in families; therefore, if you have a family history of migraines, it is likely that the headaches your child experiences are migraines as well. Stress and anxiety can cause emotionally triggered migraines.
Dependent upon your child’s symptoms, your family doctor may refer you to a neurologist, who specializes in issues of the brain and nervous system. Blood and imaging tests will be conducted to rule out more serious conditions.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for treating your child’s migraines. If nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Tylenol and Motrin, fail to cure your child’s migraine, stronger painkillers and preventative medications should be explored.
Combination medications, including acetaminophen combined with a sedative, may more effectively treat your child’s migraine. Ask your child’s doctor if combination medications, such as Midrin, would help your child.
Since medications can be addictive and often lose their effectiveness over time, you should also introduce your child to therapeutic options, such as relaxation therapy. A therapist can help your child with breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to help your child’s body relax. The therapist may also encourage your child to participate in biofeedback exercises, which involves hooking your child up to a device that monitors heart rate and blood pressure, and then teaches your child to relax enough to lower heart rate and blood pressure. These activities should be practiced so that when your child is likely to encounter a stressful situation, she will have control over how much the stress affects his or her body.
At the onset of a migraine, encourage your child to rest in a dark room where she will not be interrupted. Sleep can restore normal brain function and relieve pain. Soak a wash cloth in cold water and place it on your child’s forehead as she rests.
Treatments will vary based on your child’s symptoms and age.