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Treating Migraine Headaches in Children

Call 911 if:

  • You can't wake up the child.
  • The child has slurred speech, confusion, weakness in limbs, or trouble walking.
  • The headache is the worst the child's ever had.

  • You can't wake up the child.
  • The child has slurred speech, confusion, weakness in limbs, or trouble walking.
  • The headache is the worst the child's ever had.

1. Treat Symptoms

If migraines have already been diagnosed by your child's pediatrician, treat as follows. Any other headaches need to be evaluated by the doctor.

  • Give ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain.
  • Apply cool compress to forehead.
  • Have the child take deep, calming breaths.
  • Have the child lie down in a cool, dark room.

2. When to Seek Medical Help

  • See a doctor if headache comes back, gets worse, or lasts more than 12 hours.
  • See a doctor immediately for severe headache with fever, vomiting, or stiff neck.
  • If your child's head was injured prior to the headache, see a doctor.
  • If you feel that your child is not looking well or are concerned, see your child's doctor.

3. Follow Up

If you seek medical help:

  • The doctor will do an exam and may recommend medications, stress reduction techniques, or lifestyle changes to help prevent future migraines.
  • For severe headache with stiff neck and other symptoms, the doctor will examine the child for meningitis or other serious illnesses.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Neil Lava, MD on October 15, 2013

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