Newswise — Although we may think of migraine as a disease of adults, it can also affect children of all ages. Some studies show migraine affects 6% of children and up to 28% of adolescents ages 15-17. To assist parents whose children suffer from migraine, and to help the children themselves, the American Migraine Foundation and its Chair, David W. Dodick, MD, FRCP (C) are offering a number of tips to help manage childhood migraine and minimize its impact. Dr. Dodick is Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine (Scottsdale, AZ).
“There are many things that can be done if your child suffers from migraine, or if you suspect that he or she does,” Dr. Dodick said. “We hope that parents seeking more information will log onto our site at http://www.americanmigrainefoundation.org to read more about this important topic.”
Get Diagnosis and TreatmentIf your child is experiencing frequent headaches, have him/her see a healthcare professional (a migraine specialist, if possible) to determine if the diagnosis is migraine, the severity and frequency of the attacks, and which treatment approaches are best. Acute treatment is used to stop the pain and prevent the migraine attack from getting worse. Preemptive treatment is used when your child’s migraine is triggered by a known activity such as exercise or specific foods. Preventive treatment is maintained for months or even years to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of an attack and lessen the pain. Finally, there is complementary treatment, which relies on non-medical approaches to the frequency of attacks and reducing pain when they do occur. For more information about finding a migraine specialist, read: http://bit.ly/1Fr1LK6 Take Your MedicationsSome young people need to be reminded to take their medication. Make sure you understand from your doctor how and when the medication should be taken and take a pro-active role in being sure your child takes the medication as prescribed. If your child’s migraine attacks change (become more frequent or more severe, for instance) be sure to tell your doctor, since a new treatment approach may be needed. The American Migraine Foundation has some tips on how to take medications here: http://bit.ly/1IFRiQh
Live a Healthy LifestyleYour child’s migraine attacks can be brought on by many factors, big and small -- not getting enough sleep (or getting too much), stressing out about life events like a big test, family troubles, illness or death of a loved one and even outside events like natural disasters and acts of terrorism. Try to stay alert to events in your child’s life and help guide him or her to maintain healthy habits.
Manage StressIn addition to life events that can throw your child off track and bring on a migraine, new research in stress management (also called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT) shows it has significant value in helping youngsters with chronic headache. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback and other stress management tools may reduce the severity of migraine attacks and related disability. Although young people (and their parents) may resist this approach, evidence is mounting that it’s well worth trying when migraines are debilitating. To read more about stress management in kids with migraine, click here: http://bit.ly/1ETkksO. For help finding a CBT provider, go to: http://bit.ly/1Ac6IGm.
Keep a Migraine DiaryMany people with migraine find that keeping a diary is a great tool for understanding why they get migraines and how to prevent them. With diary entries, they can track when they have an attack, how long it lasts, what they were doing before and during the attack, what foods they ate, and how bad their headache was. Mobile phone apps may have more appeal for your youngster and may actually help kids comply better with medication regimens and track their migraines more closely. New apps are being developed every day and you can check out some of the best here: http://bit.ly/1CbMcFc The American Migraine Foundation website (www.americanmigrainefoundation.org) has a range of resources, including a monthly “Spotlight,” where migraine sufferers and the public can turn for information about living with and managing many aspects of migraine. “Spotlight” changes topics approximately once a month. The current “Spotlight on Migraine in Children,” is a feature packed with information for parents and children themselves on recognizing, and better managing, migraine. In addition to the topic discussed above, new Spotlight articles include “What Triggers Migraine Attacks in Children”; “Migraine and Children – It’s a Family Affair”; “Migraine Hurts Children’s School, Family and Social Life”; “Barriers to Getting Help”; and “What Symptoms Should I Look for in My Kids?”
Spotlight on Migraine in Children was created with the guidance of Marcy E. Yonker, MD, of Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
ABOUT MIGRAINE: Some 36 million Americans live with migraine, more than have asthma and diabetes combined. An estimated three to seven million Americans live with chronic migraine, a highly disabling neurological disorder. Migraine can be extremely disabling and costly, accounting for more than $20 billion in direct (e.g. doctor visits, medications) and indirect (e.g. missed work, lost productivity) expenses each year in the United States. ABOUT THE AMERICAN MIGRAINE FOUNDATION: The American Migraine Foundation is a non-profit foundation supported by the American Headache Society and generous donors dedicated to the advancement of migraine research. Its mission is to support innovative research that will lead to improvement in the lives of those who suffer from migraine and other disabling headaches. www.americanmigrainefoundation.org is the companion website to the American Headache Society (www.americanheadachesociety.org), the professional services organization for the world’s foremost clinicians and researchers working in migraine.