When school starts, most parents get busy buying books, supplies, clothes and much more. But kids’ migraines give a new dimension to school preparation for moms and dads.
As many as 10 percent of grade-school children have migraine headaches, and half of all sufferers get their first migraine before the age of 12. By the time they enter high school, the number of adolescents with migraine rapidly increases–more in girls than boys.
Watch for Migraine Symptoms
Kids’ migraines often go undiagnosed, so parents should be alert to some of the signs, like change in the child’s behavior (including loss of appetite, irritability or mood swings); sensitivity to light, touch and smell; and sleep-walking or sleep-talking.
Because migraine is a familial condition, parents will often have a headache history and can share their own experiences. And parents can ease the suffering, too:
- Have your child evaluated by a physician for proper diagnosis.
- If the diagnosis is uncertain, request a referral to a neurologist/headache specialist.
- Keep a diary to track the frequency of headache and identify headache triggers.
- Be sure your child stays on regular eating and sleeping schedules.
- Give your child plenty of water.
- Alert the school nurse about your child’s diagnosis.
- Make sure medications are available at school so that a migraine can get treated at the onset.
The good news is, if a physician diagnoses your child as a migraine sufferer, there are several customizable acute, preventative and complementary treatment plans available. Migraine treatment can include medications (like cyproheptadine, topirimate, sumatriptan or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine [NSAIDs]) to be taken occassionally (to relieve symptoms as they occur) or daily (to reduce the number of migraine attacks and lessen the intensity of the pain). Sometimes, preventative medication is necessary for a child who gets three or four disabling headaches a month.
No doubt, migraines can make it even harder to function properly in school or sports. But with the right treatment plan, school will be less of a headache for young migraine sufferers and will let them enjoy their lives–as kids should.