Do they often rub their forehead, or complain of head pain at the same time? Migraine may be confused with other conditions and in some cases a child may get a wrong diagnosis. In other cases, a child or parent may suspect that a different condition is causing the headaches. In children, migraine is often mistaken for sinus disease. Other common mistakes include blaming the headaches on an allergy or eyesight problems. For example, you or a teacher may think a child is using headaches as an excuse to avoid school. It is important that a child who says they are having headaches sees a doctor.
If migraine is diagnosed, other causes can be ruled out. Your child can be reassured, and their headaches can be managed and treated. There is no test to diagnose migraine. To make a firm diagnosis the doctor will take a detailed history of the headaches that includes:. The doctor is also likely to give your child a thorough physical examination and complete a neurological assessment. CAT or MRI scans, where a picture is taken of the brain cannot be used to diagnose migraine, although in a few cases they are used to diagnose other causes of headache.
A correct diagnosis is more likely if you and your child keep a record of the details of the headache attacks. The more information you can give a doctor the better. See below to download a migraine diary. You and your child can use this diary to record important information about their attacks. Include any triggers or warning signs felt or noticed by you or your child before an attack happens. Your child should also describe how severe their head pain is, and the features of the headache.
A record of medication taken during each attack will also be useful. It is important to continue to record the headaches after a diagnosis has been made. You can use this information to judge the effectiveness of different ways of managing and treating the headaches. In children you can measure the effects of migraine by noting the number of days they miss school, the number of social or sporting activities they miss and any extra hours spent resting or sleeping during episodes.
The answers are used to work out the number of days of disability caused by migraine in a three-month period.
A doctor can easily use and interpret these grades. Taking steps to manage the attacks in childhood may help the condition to improve in later life. It is important you and your child are clear about what you expect to achieve from a routine for managing migraine.
For example, aiming to reduce how often the headaches happen may be realistic, but wishing for a life without headaches may not be. A realistic goal gives your child something to aim for. They may have a sense of real achievement when their condition has been brought under better control.
Some people with migraine use ways of relieving physical tension to avoid attacks. For example, massage and physical therapy are used to help muscle pain in the neck and shoulder. A common cause of such pain in children is a heavy school bag. In many children, treating migraine early can lead to recovery in less than an hour. Your child may be able to tell you that they feel they are going to get a headache. In these situations, if you start the treatment, you may stop the attack from developing further.
It is important to treat the attack early before the pain becomes more severe. The earlier medication is taken, the more likely it is to stop all the features of a migraine. Non-prescription medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen are suitable first medications to try. It is important to give these in the right doses and in an appropriate form, perhaps a syrup. You can get information about doses from the information sheet that comes with the medicine, or from a doctor or pharmacist.
If non-prescription medicines do not help, it is important to talk to a doctor about what else is available rather than increase the dose, and risk over-using the medication and making the headaches worse. In many cases, these simple treatments can stop a migraine attack from developing. If the attack continues, despite the treatment, put your child to bed and encourage them to sleep. Another dose of the pain-killing drug may be given when it is due.
When they wake up from a sleep, however short, many children have fully recovered. Sometimes a child may still have a severe headache, even after they have followed the acute treatment steps. Or it may be that their headaches usually do not respond to these simple steps. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe specific anti-migraine drugs.
Many adults with severe migraines are treated with one of a class of migraine specific drugs called triptans. Trials have shown that children are able to take triptans too. Triptans can be taken as pills, as quick dissolving tablets, as a nasal spray, or as an injection. On average, patients who take triptans by mouth get relief from the symptoms of migraine in around half an hour. There is one triptan which is specifically licensed in the UK on prescription for children aged between 12 and This is the sumatriptan Imigran nasal spray at 10 mg which is sprayed into one nostril.
You should record details of the attacks throughout the treatment programme to help the doctor assess the effect of the medication. There may be times when acute medication does not give enough relief from an attack. An anti-nausea anti-emetic medication to stop sickness , plus an anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medication may be prescribed. Some children may continue to have disabling headaches even after changing their lifestyle and taking acute treatments. If this is the case, you need to talk to a doctor about the possibility of using preventive medication medication to try and stop the headaches happening.
How often your child has a headache is not the only thing a doctor will look at to decide whether to prescribe preventive medication. When headaches are affecting your child badly, a doctor can prescribe a number of different preventive medications. Very little scientific evidence has been gathered from children with migraine. Research involving adults with migraine is used when deciding which drug to prescribe. Doctors will also base their treatment decisions on experience from their own practice.
Migraine preventives have usually been developed to treat other conditions. Experience has shown that these drugs also stop migraine attacks from happening. Therefore, your child may be prescribed:. A doctor will also talk to you about how long your child should take preventive medication. Migraine-preventive medication is usually used for between 3 and 18 months.
This treatment generally leads to a considerable reduction in the number of headaches a child has. This improvement often carries on when a child stops taking the preventive drug. It may be wise to choose carefully the time for your child to stop taking the preventive medication, for example at the start of a long school holiday.
This will help to reduce any disruption. It is important to record fully any attacks that happen when your child is taking preventive medication. You need to watch and record what is happening, to help the doctor decide if the medication is helping to cut down the headaches. The action of any drug in the body is complicated. Drugs can act on many places in the body, not just the parts we want them to. This can lead to side effects, as well as the planned benefits. When prescribing medication for a child, a doctor will talk to you about the possible side effects.
These will also be listed on the information sheet that comes with the medication. Write down any changes you or your child see or notice that you think might be a side effect of the medication. It is important to tell a doctor about these changes. Some side effects go away with time, but a doctor may want to reduce the dose or change the medication. Some medicines containing combinations of drugs with codeine or caffeine have been strongly suspected of causing medication overuse headache. Therefore, rather than managing migraine, regular use of these drugs on more than three days a week can actually make the headaches worse.
It is important to avoid over-using medication. You should get medical advice if your child is starting to use painkillers on more than three days a week. However, in some cases the headache may be secondary, where the pain is caused by a more serious condition. If the symptoms of the headaches change, it is important to talk about these changes with a doctor. It is important for a child with migraine to take an active role in managing their condition. The more your child understands about their migraine, the less worry the condition is likely to cause.
A child recording attacks and triggers should learn about the positive steps they can take to manage the condition. The aim is to make your child feel more in control, rather than feeling the headache is controlling them. Children with headaches are bound to get them when they are away from home.
The supervising adult needs to have enough information to deal with the attack. If a child gets a severe headache, parents are often contacted and asked to take their child home. In many cases, if the appropriate help is given early enough, the child can recover and continue their activities. Each school will have a policy on supporting children with medical needs. You may want to make a special appointment, for you, the supervisor, and your child to talk about the headaches.
School staff do not have a legal duty to give medication, or to supervise a child taking medication. This is a voluntary role, but many staff are happy to take it on.
Managing Your Migraine: A Migraine Sufferer's Practical Guide
Teachers and school nurses, or others who regularly supervise children, can change the effect migraines have on a child. As migraine is very individual children may need a different plan to manage their condition. You should try to give the school as much information as possible about avoiding an attack and recognising when your child is about to have an attack.
You can also give the staff advice about what to do if your child does have an attack. For example, you may want to give them a dose of painkillers they can give your child if an attack develops while they are away from home. In many cases the child will recover quickly and be able to rejoin the class.
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If the attack continues, you should let the child rest and encourage them to sleep. Many children recover fully after waking up from a sleep, however short it has been. Some children will not respond to simple painkillers. Anti-migraine medications can take effect in as little as 30 minutes.
The child and parent s will be able to tell you what usually happens with the attack after treatment has been given. Making sure the classroom is well ventilated can also help some children to avoid attacks at school. Suggesting ways of studying which reduce stress may also help a child. When a child is having, or recovering from, an attack, they will find it very difficult to do their homework.
Giving a child support to catch up on missed work may help to break a pattern of attacks. You may also want to talk to them about when they feel most sensitive to attacks, for example, during exams. The ability of a young person with migraine to revise for, and perform in, exams, may be affected by their condition, and their results may vary. Although a child with migraine may need special attention, it is also important they feel as normal as possible.
A child should be graded according to their ability, and not downgraded as a result of their condition. Supporting a young person with migraine can put a strain on your family and may mean canceling events at short notice. This can leave the whole family, including the child with migraine, feeling frustrated. It is important that your whole family talks together about these feelings so that the child is not labeled as being different because of their condition.
We hope you find this information useful.
It is not a substitute for the expert advice of a doctor or pharmacist. Migraine may create problems for you and your child that will be common to other conditions. For example, your child may not want to go to school because they are scared of having an attack in front of friends. This may also be true for children who for example, who have epilepsy.
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A child with asthma may have problems catching up with work in the same way as a child who has missed school because of migraine. The following organisations may be able to give you advice on these general issues:. Embed Size px. Start on. Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. Published in: Education. Full Name Comment goes here. Are you sure you want to Yes No. No Downloads.
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