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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Children's Health Migraine in children

Migraine in children

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Migraine headaches in children are common and are usually not serious, presenting as severe chronic daily headaches or stress related headaches located around the eyes, in the forehead region, or in the temples with sudden onset and accompanying symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, vision changes relieved by sleep which may be caused by an infection, high levels of stress or anxiety, or minor head trauma usually treated with over-the-counter pain medications and other lifestyle and home measures.


Many children avoid bright lights, loud noises, or strong odors since these may increase the pain of their headache. An inherited tendency is believed to make some people more likely to have a migraine after some minor trigger, certain foods or liquids may trigger a migraine headache. One rare condition called familial hemiplegic migraine has been shown to have specific gene mutations that predispose to the patient's symptoms.

Causes and triggering factors:

The exact cause of migraine headaches is unknown but some are thought to be due a temporary deficiency of the brain chemical serotonin

1. Genetic predisposition: Migraines tend to run in families.

2. Head trauma:

  • Accidental bumps and bruises on head
  • Falling hard with injury to head

3. Illness and infection:

  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Colds and flu are often accompanied by headache

4. Environmental factors:

  • Weather changes
  • Altitude changes

5. Emotional factors:

  • High levels of stress and anxiety either in school, home or with friends
  • Feelings of sadness and loneliness

6. Certain foods and beverages:

  • The food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in Chinese food and food such as bacon, bologna and hot dogs, has been known to trigger headaches
  • Caffeine, which is in soda, chocolate, coffee and tea, can cause headaches
  • Alcohol, Chocolate, Cheese, Nuts, Shellfish

7. Changes in sleeping patterns or sleeping time

8. Menstrual periods and harmones


  • Headache and Nausea
  • Vomiting and abdominal cramping
  • Sensitivity to light, Sound or to smells
  • A need to sleep

Accompanying symptoms :

  • Paleness with dark circles under the eyes
  • Tearing
  • Swollen nasal passages
  • Thirst and swelling
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased urination and diarrhea

Tests and diagnosis:

The causes in children are found with ease

  • History of the pattern of headaches, severity, triggering factors, and any preceding symptoms before the headache
  • Physical examination of the nervous system with problems in movement, co-ordination and sensation
  • CT scan to diagnose some tumors, infections and injuries
  • MRI can diagnose in detail of tumors, infections, injuries, neurological diseases etc
  • Lumbar puncture for spinal fluid to evaluate any infections caused by bacteria or virus



  • Pain relievers: Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and a class of drugs known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Pain reliever combination medications: Acetaminophen and other analgesics are often combined with sedatives and other drugs
  • Other medications: Triptans, Opiods, barbiturates and benzodiazepines