Your Child and Migraine

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on April 28, 2024
3 min read

Migraines can be scary for kids and stress-inducing for their parents. After all, when a child you love hurts, you hurt, too.

You can help your youngster feel better. You may even be able to prevent a migraine from happening.

They can have pain on the front or both sides of their head. It usually feels like it's throbbing. The pain can last less than an hour or as long as a day or so.  In severe cases, it can last about a week.

Sometimes, kids with a migraine feel dizzy or sick to their stomach. Their vision might be blurry. Sounds, smells, or bright lights may bother them.

Young children with migraine might not have pain. Instead, they may have stomach problems and dizziness that keep coming back.

Kids with migraine can have auras before the pain hits. This is kind of a warning that a migraine is about to start. They might see:

  • Flashing or bright lights
  • Moving lines
  • Blurriness

Sometimes their arms, legs, or face might tingle. Young people who have migraine often get motion sickness, too.

It can help your doctor figure out what's happening if you keep a headache diary of your child's migraines. Keep track of:

  • When your child has migraines, including what time of day
  • How long they last
  • Where the pain is
  • How bad the pain is
  • Other symptoms
  • Triggers or warning signs that you or your child noticed before the migraine hit
  • Anything that made the migraines better or worse

Your child's doctor can use the diary to learn more about the migraines and their triggers. This may help them find the best treatment.

You'll probably get questions about symptoms and any other health problems your kid has. Your child's doctor will probably also ask if anyone else in your family has migraines.

For some kids, sleep is enough to make a migraine go away. Let your child rest in a dark, quiet room. Putting a cool compress on their forehead or across their eyes may help.

Your doctor may suggest medicine. It might include:

  • Pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Special migraine drugs called triptans
  • Medicines to help with vomiting and nausea
  • Drugs to prevent migraines, if they happen a lot

You may also want to talk to the doctor about teaching your child relaxation techniques. If they can learn how to breathe deeply or relax their muscles, it may help ease their pain.

Luckily, a lot of kids outgrow migraines. Until then, help your child stay away from things that might cause them. They could include:

  • Skipping meals
  • Certain foods, like lunch meat, aged cheese, MSG, chocolate, and yogurt
  • Not enough sleep
  • Stress
  • Overscheduling

Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep and exercise with a well-rounded diet to help keep migraines at bay.

You never know when your child might have a migraine. That's why it's a good idea to have a plan if they're not at home. Talk to teachers, coaches, or other caregivers. Have medicine at school. Wherever your child goes, try to find a dark, quiet place for them if the pain hits.