When Your Child Has a Headache
Kids and Migraines
Does Your Child Have Migraines? continued...
Parents must look for behavioral clues. "The child may be
playing, then all of a sudden stop playing, bring his arms up to his head,"
he says. There may be dizziness, nausea, vomiting, carsickness.
In fact, he says, kids who suffer from carsickness -- even
without headaches -- will likely develop migraines later in life.
As with Tyler, "a migraine can be severe enough that kids
miss school because of it," says Diamond, and it can disrupt their daily
lives, their relationships with friends.
"They invite another kid over to play, then all of a sudden
say 'I can't do it today,'" he says. "They hibernate. They go to
"Food is often the trigger for a child's migraine,"
says Diamond, "especially cheese, peanut butter, and hot dogs."
Migraines in young children typically start at the end of the
school day, he says. In adolescents, they occur at lunch time. Older
adolescents -- ages 15, 16, 17 -- generally awaken with their migraine
After age 10, a child's head pain may be a tension headache
rather than migraine, says Diamond.
"Children build up anxieties, tensions, frustrations easily
after age 10," he says. "There are peer pressures, other factors that
could cause stress. Younger children just don't have those tensions in their
Until puberty, boys are more likely than girls to have
migraines; when the monthly hormone shifts hit young girls, they begin having
more migraines, says Diamond.
Treatments That Work
Automatic reaction for a child's headache pain: Reach for the
Tylenol, Advil, ibuprofen. But parents should pay attention to how much their
kids are taking, says Diamond. Too many over-the-counter headache medicines can
create what's known as "rebound headaches" -- a daily headache pattern
caused by caffeine in the medication.
Whether the headaches are migraines or tension headaches,
rebound headaches make the problem worse, he says.
"If a child is taking them more than twice a week, they are
in danger of developing rebound headaches," Diamond says.
In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Child
Neurology found that of 26 adolescents -- all with chronic headaches -- 16
were taking pain medication daily. But two months after stopping all pain
medication, the children reported suffering headaches for fewer than three days