Migraines in Children
A migraine isn’t just a bad headache, it’s a neurological problem that includes intense head pain along with symptom’s that include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, touch and sound, dizziness, odors, mood changes and abdominal pain. While children usually have fewer migraine attacks (and shorter) than adults, childhood migraine can be just as disabling. Although there are over 100 drugs that are used to treat migraine symptoms, none has been authorized for use in children unless prescribed by a physician.
Half of all migraines in children usually first occur before the age of 12 and there have been reports of little one’s as young as 18 months having them. As puberty approaches, the occurrence increases, sooner with girls than in boys, possibly because of the change in estrogen levels. By the time children turn 17, as many as 8% of boys and 23% of girls have suffered from a migraine.
Migraine Treatment for Children and Adolescents
Migraine treatment for children and adolescents largely depends on their age and the severity and of the attacks. For some, sleeping alone is enough to treat it. Since lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain occur in 90% of child migraine sufferers, drugs used to specifically treat nausea and vomiting (antiemetics) are often prescribed. Because there’s a potential for medication overuse that can lead to rebound headaches (and more intense ones), all medications should be carefully monitored, including over the counter medications. If a child is taking any drugs for headaches more than a couple of times a week, a doctor should be consulted and in some cases, they’ll be referred to doctors or medical centers that specialize in headaches, especially for children whose diagnosis is difficult to address or that don’t respond to first line treatments.
There are three common approaches to Migraine Treatment:
1. Acute treatment uses drugs to relieve the symptoms when they occur. If a child has three or four disabling headaches a month, the doctor may suggest taking antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, NSAIDs, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. Unfortunately, few have been approved for children and they all come with serious side effects that include but aren’t limited to, longer lasting, more intense headaches if not taken correctly, fatigue and sleepiness, nausea, racing heartbeat and difficulty thinking.
2. To avoid the use of prescription or over the counter drugs that aren’t even approved for children without a doctors okay, there are several natural treatment options and lifestyle changes that can make a difference. These options include using relaxation techniques (hypnosis, imagery, biofeedback), cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, acupuncture, proper sleeping habits (going to bed at the same time and getting 6 to 8 hours sleep) and following a healthy diet; for many children, these recommendations alone can help reduce migraine frequency and severity. In addition, herbal remedies and supplements can help including butterbur, feverfew, CoQ10, riboflavin and magnesium.
3. A growing number of migraine sufferers are turning to upper cervical chiropractic care for help. Upper cervical chiropractors specialize in the composition of the spine and its protective partnership to the nervous system. Upper Cervical Chiropractors can detect and correct spinal misalignments by adjusting the spine and restoring the appropriate structural position which eliminates spinal stress and gets the nervous system back to functioning correctly, lessening or even eliminating migraines all together. The effectiveness of upper cervical chiropractic in resolving migraines has been well documented in case studies and research worldwide.
Click here to learn more about the connection between neck injuries and migraines in children.
Dr. Tymothy Flory, Dr. James Weiss and Dr. Jameson Wong of Atlas Spinal Care in Upland, California are Upper Cervical Specialists trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Their upper cervical clinic also serves Claremont, La Verne, San Dimas, Glendora and surrounding areas. They are uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems.