Migraine Headaches in Children

Migraine Headaches in Children
Migraine Headaches in Children

Headaches in Children - The migraine headaches is characterized by an intense, pulsed pain that begins in front, located around the eyes and on one side of the head. Migraine headaches may be accompanied by a tendency to vomit, gradually getting worse by any movement or other activity. The bright light and strong sound also makes the pain more intense.

In some patients before the onset of migraine headaches they may experience aura. In the aura the patient sees bright lights, the illumination. Occasionally there may be a temporary reduction in vision.

The frequency of migraine headaches crisis is different from patient to patient. Some may occur each week while in other the episodes may occur only occasionally. The duration of a migraine can be from 2 hours to 2 or 3 days.

Migraine headaches can affect children as well

It is important that parents, teachers and all the doctors know that migraines are a problem that can affect children as well.

About 5% of children in primary schools suffer from migraine headaches. In secondary education, 20% of adolescents suffer from migraines.

The most frequently affected are girls. The boys experience migraine headaches when they are between 10 and 12 years.

It is therefore very important that the examination by the doctor of the child to include a very good history of the disease. The medical history of the condition of the child as well as family history can help greatly in locating and in the diagnosis of migraine headaches causes.

The neurological examination, the taking of the temperature and evaluate the general condition of the child, in most cases contribute to the differential diagnosis between migraine headaches or tension headaches and other disorders of the central nervous system.

The diagnosis of migraine is based primarily on personal history of the child, the family history and the clinical examination, the doctor will make.

Besides the drugs, the lifestyle of the child may help to prevent migraine headaches episodes. Regular exercise, good sleep, healthy diet can also help.

In some patients there are certain foods or situations that favor the start of the crisis. The parents of the child or adolescent can help their child, to recognize what are the factors and thus help to prevent crises.

Among the factors that favour the initiation of migraine crises include:
  1. Stress
  2. Excessive physical exercise
  3. The consumption of cheese, sausage, chocolate
  4. MSG: The substance contained in foods of Asian origin and Chinese-type
  5. Coffee
  6. Nuts, pickles

Approximately 33% of patients suffering from migraine show that the onset of the crisis is linked with the consumption of certain foods.

Recent guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (American Academy of Neurology) on the pharmaceutical treatment of migraine headaches in children and adolescents include the following:
  1. For children over 6 years, ibuprofen is effective. The acetaminophen is also probably effective. Both drugs can be used to treat episodes of migraine headaches.
  2. For adolescents (children over 12 years) the sumatriptan nasal spray is effective and can be used for the immediate treatment of migraine headache episodes
  3. For the prevention of migraine, the flunarizine is suitanble and can be used for this purpose

Other important information about migraine headaches in children

There is good news for children and adolescents suffering from migraine headaches. In adulthood, it is likely to get full treatment from this form of headaches and even the cases that the treatment is not full the intensity of headaches will be lower.

These are interesting findings emerged from an Italian survey carried out in 55 children aged 11 to 14 years suffering from migraine headaches. After 10 years of monitoring, 38% of them had no migraines or other form of headaches. In another 20% of children, the migraine headaches was gone but they experienced tension-type headaches but in milder form.

In children with parents or brothers who also had migraine, the odds to have migraines 10 years later, was 7 times more compared with children who had no close relatives with migraine.

Unlike other investigations, the Italian study did not found that girls are more likely than boys to continue in the future to suffer from migraine headaches. The same was found for individuals who had migraine headaches at an early age. These people were not more likely in adulthood to continue to suffer from migraine headaches.

The headaches can be a frequent problem in children

An estimated 4% to 10% of children have migraine headaches. Many adults suffer from various forms of headaches, which begin from childhood. In 20% of them, the headaches started before the age of 10 years.

In most cases the migraine headaches symptoms in children are not serious, and they do not lead to more dangerous diseases. But every time a child or adolescent complains of headaches, they must undergo through a good physical examination by a doctor to exclude serious diseases or other diseases that may threaten directly the life of the child.

Headaches can be divided into 2 major categories: primary and secondary.

The primary headaches are occurring on their own and are not the manifestation of another disease. Primary headaches include migraine headaches, tension headaches and cumulative headache.

Secondary headaches are those that occur due to another cause or disease. These include headaches due to cerebral concussion, cranial or brain injury, vascular problems (bleeding or obstruction), adverse drug reactions, infections of the nervous system such as meningitis or encephalitis, infections in other parts of the body, disorders of sinuses and brain tumours.

Some symptoms of migraine headaches in children that require direct clinical examination of the child and advice from a doctor are:
  1. Headaches that wake up child during the night
  2. Headaches in the morning accompanied by vomiting and nausea
  3. Worsening of headaches with increasing frequency and intensity
  4. Changes in behaviour and character of the child
  5. Complaints of the child saying that he/she is experiencing the worst headache ever had
  6. When the form of headache is different from those presented earlier in the child
  7. Headaches accompanied by fever and stiff neck
  8. Headaches following a head injury

In conclusion, we see that despite the fact that headaches are a common problem in children, and should be alert and seek medical examination for the early discovery of diseases that can cause secondary headaches, which can be particularly dangerous for children.

In parallel we see that the news is good for children and adolescents suffering from migraine headaches because in adulthood most will be exempted from either the disease or have significant reduction of the problem.