Although migraines are often thought of as a disease that affects adults (adult migraines are far more common), it can be the case that children can suffer from migraine headaches.
This contrasts with tension-type headaches, which are headaches caused by physical or mental stress and are generally located at the back of the head, while migraines can appear not just all around the head, but in different parts of the body.
Children are much less likely to suffer from migraines than adults—the most common ages to experience migraines are 18–44—but it’s still estimated that around 10% of children experience migraines. Compared to the population of Boston (700,000 people, of whom 168,000 are children), that’s about 16,800 children.
Causes of Migraines
Chronic migraines are now better understood than they once were, and many causes have now been identified. Rather than being seen as simply a result of blood vessel issues in the head and brain, now experts believe that migraines are the result of a wide variety of brain malfunctions, often related to the neurotransmitter serotonin.
To help your physician diagnose the cause of your child’s headaches, it’s a good idea to keep a headache diary. This can help your physician determine if you’re dealing with migraines or other types of headaches, like cluster headaches.
That being said, there are many risk factors for having migraines.
Here are some of the risk factors that can cause a migraine:
- A family history of migraines
- Lack of sleep
- Changes in eating patterns
- Caffeine intake or withdrawal
- Some medications
- Change in weather
- Motion sickness
According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine attacks in kids with migraines have a variety of symptoms, including:
- Severe head pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual disturbances
- Head pain, especially pain that worsens with physical activity and that pulses and throbs
- Pain in the abdomen
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Pale skin
- Loss of appetite
These are some of the more common symptoms, but there are many other symptoms that can be much more severe. This is not to discount the severity of the above symptoms, but rather to show that migraines can often mimic other types of diseases and must therefore be diagnosed and treated under the care of a doctor or specialist. This is to ensure your child is not suffering from something other than a migraine that might be more severe.
Here are some of the less common symptoms of migraines. These are often called complicated migraines and are considered migraine variants:
- Numbness, tingling
- Balance issues
- Speech/language problems
- Contraction of the neck muscles on one side
- Uncontrolled vomiting for 24 hours (cyclic vomiting)
- Pain in the stomach, usually near the belly button
Types of Migraines
Although most people think about migraines as a severe headache, there are quite a few different types of migraines, including:
- Complicated migraines
- Migraine variants
- Classic migraines
- Common migraines
There are many subtypes as well that you can read more about here.
Learn More About Clinical Studies in Boston for Migraines
Has your child been diagnosed with migraines? If so, they may qualify for a clinical research study on migraines.