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Symptoms and Treatment of Migraine in Children

Migraine in children is one of the main causes of children experiencing headaches that often recur. The pain can even be so severe that it is difficult for children to move. So that this condition does not drag on, parents need to recognize the symptoms of migraine in children and their treatment.

Migraine in children can occur in children of any age. However, this disease is more common in children aged 7-11 years. Migraines are also more common in children who have entered puberty. Migraine in children who have entered puberty is more common in adolescent girls.

There are two main types of migraines in children, namely:

Migraine without aura. This type of migraine occurs in 60-85% of cases of migraine in children.

Migraine with aura. This type of migraine occurs in 15-30% of cases of migraine in children.

Aura is a sign of symptoms that indicate that a migraine is imminent. Aura symptoms usually appear 30-60 minutes before a migraine appears and can last for 20-60 minutes. The most common aura symptoms are:

  • Vision blurred suddenly.
  • Eye glare feels like there is a line or.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Some children who experience symptoms of aura before the appearance of migraines can also feel hallucinations, body difficulty moving or tingling.

Signs of Migraine in Children

Migraine felt by each child can vary in duration. Some children feel migraines for several minutes, several hours, and some even feel it for several days.

Some signs and symptoms of migraine in children include:

  • Headache often affects the entire head not just one side, but maybe the pain feels more centered on one side; throbbing or blunt pain; shorter attacks, sometimes lasting less than 1 hour, often improving in two or four hours; headaches may get worse if the child does even mild activity.
  • Headaches may disappear, but the child may feel unwell or sick and this may be worse than the headache. Sometimes, complaints of being unwell are a sign of the end of a child's migraine attack and can bring relief.
  • Complaining of stomach pain without headaches
  • Frequently, motion sickness is an indication of a child's migraine
  • Headaches can come very suddenly, and the child may experience severe pain in less than 15 minutes
  • Weak, lethargic
  • Impaired vision, migraine aura appears
  • Sensitive to light and sound
  • The head is engulfed like a rotating room; nauseous vomit; looks pale
  • Lack of appetite
  • Eyelid drooping and dilated pupils - associated with migraine of ophthalmoplegia
  • Body weakness is only on one side (like a stroke) - associated with migraine hemiplegia
  • Some common pain syndromes in infants, such as vomiting for several hours, restlessness changing the position of the head when lying on his side, complaints of dizziness, and colic can be predictors of migraine in adult life later.

Every child can show different symptoms of migraine. When a migraine occurs, stimulation of light, odor, sound, to daily activities can be disturbing or worsen migraine symptoms.

What causes child migraines?

Most children experience headaches due to illness, infection, or fever. Migraine is a different story. Doctors do not know exactly what causes migraines, although they know that migraines are associated with changes in the size of arteries inside and outside the brain, as well as chemical structures in the brain. In many cases, a child's migraine is a hereditary condition in the family. If one parent has a history of migraines, the child has a 50% chance of developing a migraine, and if both parents have a history of migraines, the child's risk jumps to 75 percent.

In many cases of child and adolescent migraines, headaches are triggered by external factors. Triggers can vary for each child. Some common migraine triggers include:

  • Emotional stress: People with migraines are generally very affected by stressful events. Emotions caused during stress, such as anxiety, worry, and fatigue can increase muscle tension and blood vessel dilation thereby increasing the severity of migraine headaches.
  • Sleep patterns: Some children can get migraines if their sleep patterns are disturbed. This can include having too much sleep, as well as a lack of sleep. Setting a schedule for getting up early and getting a regular night's sleep can help avoid developing attacks.
  • Diet: Skipping meals or eating sugary snacks can contribute to migraine attacks. Both lower the body's blood sugar levels and can cause migraines. Three regular meals can help.
  • Daily routines: For some children, sudden physical exercise, such as running, can trigger a migraine attack. Glare and flickering from a computer or TV screen can trigger migraines. Being in a room with bright lights and/or loud sounds also triggers a child's migraine. Changes in weather such as thunderstorms, strong winds, or changes in altitude can also trigger migraines.

How to treat migraines in children

Treatment of migraines in children depends on how severe the symptoms of migraines, how often migraines occur or recur, and what symptoms experienced by children when experiencing migraines.

But in general, the symptoms of migraine in children can be alleviated in the following ways:

Enough rest

When experiencing migraines, children are advised to sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet room. Adequate rest is proven to help relieve migraine symptoms in children.

Taking pain relievers

If the symptoms are very severe or make it difficult for the child to rest, migraines need to be treated with pain medication. To determine the type of pain medication that is suitable for migraine in children, you should consult a doctor.

Avoid stress

Stress and fatigue can make a migraine in children relapse. If the child is experiencing stress, try to calm and accompany him, so he can feel relaxed and comfortable. If necessary, take the child to a psychologist for counseling, to help him deal with stress.

In addition to the above methods, migraines can also be treated with medication from a doctor. Medications commonly used to relieve pain and prevent migraine recurrence are:

  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
  • Triptan drugs, such as sumatriptan.
  • Antidepressant drugs, such as amitriptyline.
  • Anticonvulsant drugs, such as topiramate, gabapentin, and valproic acid.
  • Antihypertensive drugs, such as propranolol and verapamil. Although commonly used to treat high blood pressure, this type of drug can also help prevent migraine recurrence in children.

The choice of medication used will be based on the condition and age of each child, his age, and whether there is an improvement after the child is given drugs.

Migraines in children need to be immediately examined by a pediatrician if accompanied by high fever, vomiting, convulsions, fainting, and coma. Migraines also need to be treated immediately if they are getting worse and worse, lasting more than two days, occurring more than once a week, or making it difficult for children to do activities and take lessons at school.



  1. WebMD (2017). Treating Migraine Headaches in Children.
  2. Van Diest, et al. (2017). Similarities and Differences between Migraine in Children and Adults: Presentation, Disability, and Response to Treatment. Current Pain and Headache Reports.
  3. Healthy Children, American Academy of Pediatrics (2016). Migraine Headaches in Children.
  4. Clevelandclinic (2017). Migraines in Children.

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Health and clinical interests include all aspects of infectious diseases

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