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Migraine In Kids: Symptoms, Management and Treatment

Anyone, including children can get migraines. It is important to identify signs and symptoms to provide them timely aid.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Feb 03, 2023 09:30 IST
Migraine In Kids: Symptoms, Management and Treatment

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Talking about migraine, all we can think of is the debilitating pain it causes. Imagine a child going through that pain and unable to figure out what is happening. Migraine in kids can be extremely daunting for both child and parents. It is important to identify the symptoms and seek treatment to help the child lead a healthy life. Onlymyhealth reached out to Dr. Puja Kapoor, Paediatric Neurologist and co-founder of Continua Kids to know more about migraine in kids.

Symptoms of migraine in children

Childhood migraine is a common entity and presents as headache and at times, associated with nausea or vomiting, in children. The other symptoms of migraine in children include:

  • Headache, generally localised in the frontal part, and could be unilateral to bilateral. In younger children they cannot localise and inform about global type.
  • It is usually a throbbing or pulsating kind. It lasts for a few hours and can even last a day. Again, younger children could not describe the type of pain.
  • The child may also complain of nausea and vomiting, or redness in eyes, or may turn pale, or quiet.
  • The headache is usually sensitive to sound, light, heat, and certain types of food like cocoa, coffee, nuts etc.
  • The relieving factors are sleep, avoidance of bright light and sound
  • Some children can get aura, like flashes of light, change in vision, or peculiar smells, before the start of a headache.
  • The average age of onset is around 7 years, but may happen even to children as young as 3 years.
  • In girls, it may be associated with menstrual cycle
  • In certain children, family history is also associated.
migraine in children

Different types of headache

Other types of headaches are tension headache, cluster headache, mixed headache. These are defined by their location, duration, precipitating and relieving factor and need to be differentiated from migraine.

Migraine is a diagnosis of exclusion, as there are no tests to confirm migraine. It is a clinical entity, so other causes of headache should be ruled out. The most common cause of headache in children is sinusitis, so it should be considered and treated, if symptoms are present.

migraine in children causes

Diagnosis and Treatment

Other tests which should be in a case of headache who is presented to the OPD first time is, MRI brain/ CT brain. As any space occupying lesion should be ruled out as a possible cause of headache, imaging of the brain is must in any case of headache.

Blood pressure should also be done, if the child presents with headache Eye examination with fundus should be done, to rule out papilledema.

Also Read: Why Is Migraine Triggered By Weather Change?

The child once diagnosed with migraine should take following precautions:

  • Protect from bright light, so should wear goggles and a cap when moving out in bright sunlight
  • Avoid food items which precipitate migraine like nuts, coffee, cocoa etc
  • Painkillers should be taken to restrict headache to a smaller time.
  • Long term, everyday medication is required if the frequency of headache is very high and causes inconvenience in daily work/ school activities.

Migraine should never be self diagnosed, as it could be the initial symptom of a space occupying lesion, which needs to be treated differently and urgently.