Migraine in children

When the head and stomach hurt the smallest of the family, most parents do not think anything bad about it. But sometimes there is migraine behind it, more often than you think. Experts estimate between three and ten percent the number of children suffering from migraine in Germany. Migraines are not just headaches. It is rather a disease that affects the entire human being. The clinical picture includes nausea and / or vomiting, as well as a high sensitivity to light and noise, in addition to the onset of a fierce headache. Suffering itself is a well-known one: even Hildegard von Bingen, who made himself known in the Middle Ages as a healer, suffered from this disease.

Children and migraine: symptoms

How do I know if my child is suffering from migraine? One of the most important symptoms is that children suddenly stop playing, show no interest in their environment, and in many cases try to avoid light and sound. Nausea and vomiting, or just severe abdominal pain, are also typical of childhood migraine, and adult headache can be completely absent.

Often, the small patients after vomiting overcomes a strong fatigue. "Sleep the pain" call doctors this leaden fatigue following a disease attack. After waking up the migraine is mostly forgotten and the children behave normally again. Depending on the age, the migraine has a different effect. This is how almost all migraineurs who are younger than ten years vomit. Their seizures often last six hours or less, rarely more than twenty-four.

Older children may be plagued by migraine attacks that last several days. The incidence of attacks of vomiting decreases with age, and many patients are more likely to experience tension-type headaches as adolescents and adults.

Causes and triggers of migraine

The causes of migraine are not fully understood. A family predisposition is likely. The seizure is triggered in many patients by so-called "trigger factors". They include bright, flickering light, sun, too much or too little sleep and also certain foods: chocolate, cheese, red wine, coffee and tea. For the avoidance of migraine attacks in children, of course, the omission of chocolate is important.

Even hectic, flickering computer games are suspected of favoring migraines. Parents of small migraine sufferers should therefore make sure that the offspring does not sit too long and too often in front of the flickering screen. Stress is and remains one of the main triggers. Even at school, many children are so under pressure to perform that they are regularly plagued by headache or abdominal pain with vomiting attacks. If there are strains in the private sphere - be it a family crisis or challenging hobbies that create pressure to perform - the problem becomes more acute. Even positive stress, such as the anticipation of a trip or a party, can trigger migraines.

Important for the affected families is a good diagnosis and advice from the home or specialist. Other illnesses must be excluded before the diagnosis of migraines is really established.

What can parents do?

At the beginning of the diagnosis, the parents should keep a diary for several weeks, in which the exact number of seizures, the duration and the possible triggers (class work, sports, children's birthday, etc.) are recorded. Also what and how much was eaten, is an important point. When a seizure occurs, children should be given the opportunity to retire to a quiet, dark room and "sleep off" the pain. Often, this is enough without the need for medication.

For prevention, good sleep management is important: regular sleep, bed only for sleeping - not for television, video games or homework. In some cases, special medications can help when a migraine attack occurs. Whether and which active ingredients are used, but the specialist must decide.

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