Not only adults suffer from severe headaches or migraines, children are also affected. It is about five to ten percent of children aged seven to fifteen who have had a migraine. Even children from third Year of life can be affected by the symptoms of child migraine. They express themselves in a similar way to adults, but have some special features 1 .
Children’s migraines: When children have a headache
Many children have had headaches and migraines in primary school. There is none before puberty gender difference, however, this changes after puberty. Here the frequency of migraines decreases Boys by 50 percent, while they are for Girl rises 2nd Among other things, responsible for this development is the increase or decrease in the sex hormone estrogen over the course of a woman’s life. The menstrual cycle also influences the female hormone balance. Children with previous parental stress are also particularly affected. This means that if they have suffered from migraines more often, children are more likely to also suffer from child migraines.
In addition, migraines have been diagnosed in children in recent years 1. However, the reasons for this remain unclear. It is speculated whether, on the one hand, the changing living conditions of children with migraine-promoting factors (for example more stress and more intensive screen usage) are responsible for it, or on the other hand, because of the migraines of children, people simply go to the doctor more often than a few years ago.
What is a migraine??
- pulsating, stinging or throbbing headache
- like an attack at irregular intervals
- often one-sided in one half of the head
- Duration from a few hours to three days (often shorter for children)
- Concomitant symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, sensitivity to noise and light
Compared to adults, it is usually much more difficult, to determine the migraines in children. They are often only able to express their pain sufficiently in words. It is therefore important to pay attention to symptoms that become apparent, for example, through changes in the child’s behavior.
Migraines in children: symptoms
Older children usually complain of severe headaches. In children who are not yet able to express themselves so well, the symptoms are usually one Change in behavior to notice. Those affected by children’s migraines are often irritated or look tired. They also withdraw, lie down, stop playing or cry. In most cases, the child’s face is pale.
Although the attacks in child migraines are usually shorter than in adults, they can still last for several hours. The pain often extends over both sides of the head. They are rarely one-sided. In some cases it is also possible that the headache is completely absent.
In such a case, the migraine manifests itself through the following side effects:
- stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- increased body temperature between 37 and 38 degrees Celsius 3
Since the child migraine manifests itself in a multitude of variants, that is without a headache to understand as a possible preliminary stage. This means that symptoms can already appear here that indicate a migraine. The affected children should examined by the doctor to exclude potential external causes, such as other diseases. In the further course, the complaints can also develop into a complete migraine. Comparable to this is the abdominal migraine (also called abdominal migraine), which also occurs without the usual headache. The child usually complains of nausea in the morning and vomits shortly afterwards. This can be caused by psychological and physical stress factors that affect the digestive tract.
Symptoms of migraines with aura rarely occur in children’s migraines. These are neurological phenomena that are characterized, for example, by
- optical hallucinations (colors and shapes),
- Visual disturbances (flickering and flashes of light) and
- manifest numbness or tingling in the extremities.
It is important to know that these symptoms only temporarily and usually occur before the actual migraine headache. As a rule, they last for less than an hour and subside with the onset of a headache.
Causes and triggers of migraines in children and adolescents
What exactly triggers migraines in children has not yet been fully clarified. However, it is believed that a number of different factors can be responsible, including:
- physical or psychological stress
- physical stimuli (e.g. sensitivity to noise or light)
- Irregular sleeping habits
- Influence of the weather (especially temperature changes and high humidity)
- chemical irritants (exhaust gases, cigarette smoke, deodorants, dyes or adhesives)
- Food (e.g. intolerance to certain ingredients)
Basically, the triggers of migraines in children are very similar to those in adults. The difference, however, is that children are vast more vulnerable and sensitive react to many stimuli. Since stress is seen as one of the central factors for child migraines, it is essential to shield the child from stressful situations as much as possible and to eliminate possible sources of stress in everyday life.
Migraines in children: therapy and prevention
A non-drug therapy is recommended for children’s migraines. If this is not sufficient, it is advisable to consult a doctor to determine whether and to what extent a therapy with medicinal products makes sense. Especially the administration of acetylsalicylic acid or metoclopramide, i.e. active substances that are often found in migraine medication for adults, are not suitable for children. They can cause severe brain and liver damage in the wrong dosage. Also preparations from the active ingredient group of triptans allowed to should not be used in children under the age of 12 or only in exceptional cases after consulting a doctor. Medicines with the active ingredients Ibuprofen or paracetamol are more suitable.
To alleviate the discomfort, it is recommended to put the child to sleep in a dark and quiet environment. A relaxed and restful sleep can do a lot here. Cold compresses that are placed on the forehead, temple or neck are also suitable as a pain-relieving measure. Rubbing the mentioned areas with peppermint oil can also have a pain relieving effect on children’s migraines. However, one should be careful with smaller children that the peppermint oil does not come into contact with the eyes, as this leads to irritation.
These tips can help prevent migraines in children:
- Regular times to eat and sleep serve to avoid hypoglycaemia and to keep the sleep rhythm in sync. Breakfast in particular is an important supplier of the nutrients consumed overnight. Setting the alarm clock on the weekend to the same time as on weekdays can also help to keep the sleep rhythm in balance over the days off.
- Adequate exercise outdoors and sports provide the necessary fresh air supply and help to relieve stress and tension.
- A healthy and balanced diet provides the necessary energy for the day and thus increases the stress tolerance.
- Drink plenty of water reduces the risk of dehydration, which is considered an additional trigger for child migraines. For a little more variety and taste when hydrating, you can also prepare tea for your child, ideally linden blossom tea: this is considered a proven home remedy for migraines. It is important to mention that the excessive consumption of particularly salty foods, such as ready meals or pretzel pretzels with salt, leads to a withdrawal of fluid and can favor the headache.
It is essential: each less stress the child experiences in everyday life, the more better. Should the child have problems at school, with friends or other areas of his or her life, a simple conversation with a parent can be considered relaxation measure serve and for Reduction of stress to lead.
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