Most adult migraine sufferers had their first migraine before the age of 10, without knowing what they were experiencing was a migraine. Thankfully, with better diagnostic guidelines, pediatric migraines are getting diagnosed earlier, leading to more efficient and effective treatment.
Understanding pediatric migraines
8% of pre-teens experience migraines, and the symptoms can be different than adult migraines. Younger children often present with gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting and stomach pain, along with their migraine pain. Children also experience pain on both sides of their head, as opposed to the one-sided pain adults often encounter. This can lead to misdiagnosis as a stomach bug or norovirus. If your child is experiencing GI symptoms up to 15 days a month, they may be dealing with migraine pain.
Treating migraines in children
While prescription treatment options for children are similar to adults (with dosages adjusted), there are other adjustments to consider. Children with migraines can suffer from allodynia, which is an increased sensitivity to touch or pressure. You’ll want to watch for tight clothing and hairstyles, ill-fitting glasses or bad prescriptions, or anything similar that might trigger a migraine for children. Pediatric migraines are often tackled with a three-prong approach: a primary and secondary medication, a preventative medication, and then behavioral approaches to help children understand their pain, like therapy. Chronic pain can feel confusing for an adult — imagine being a child and not understanding why your body feels like this, and why you aren’t always able to do what your peers are doing.
Diet is important for any migraine sufferer but can be especially important for children with migraines. Children will want to avoid blood sugar spikes, and processed foods (nitrates in particular), and pay close attention to hydration levels. Kids don’t always think to drink when they’re thirsty. You’ll want to establish or gamify a routine to make sure they’re staying hydrated.
Diagnosis is the biggest barrier for kids with migraines. Since their symptoms can present as vomiting or appetite changes, they’re often misdiagnosed. Their pain can also be overlooked or deemed overdramatic or as a “tactic” to get out of school. Listen to your kids and track their symptoms just as you would your own.
Our Team: We are Here to Help
We are a small, dedicated app development team that wants you to better understand your migraines and triggers. Everyone on the team has lived with migraines at some point in their lives. We are your community, and we’re here to help. Reach out any time with questions. [email protected].
As always — please seek the advice of a doctor for medical questions. Our app team cannot give medical advice.
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