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Migraine in Kids and Teenagers: Managing the Ache

Migraine in Kids and Teenagers: Managing the Ache

By the point Mira Halker began highschool, hardly a day handed that she wasn’t both getting a migraine assault or recovering from one. She missed volleyball crew apply. She missed lessons. She missed social occasions. And few individuals understood. In any case, she appeared wholesome.

“Numerous occasions, individuals assume I am faking it,” mentioned Mira, now 16, who lives in Phoenix. Buddies referred to as her flaky; her volleyball coaches questioned her dedication to the crew. “I am like, ‘I am not attempting to get out of this. This isn’t what that is about,’ ” she mentioned.

Her mom, Rashmi B. Halker Singh, MD, is a neurologist at Mayo Clinic who occurs to specialise in migraine. Even so, discovering an answer was not simple. Neither ibuprofen nor triptans, nor varied preventive measures comparable to a each day prescription for topiramate managed the ache and related signs. Mira was barely making it by means of her college day and needed to give up volleyball. Then, within the spring of tenth grade, Mira informed her mom that she could not go to promenade as a result of the loud noises and lights might give her a migraine assault.

Mom and daughter determined it was time to get much more aggressive. “There are these key moments in life that you would be able to’t get again,” Singh mentioned. “Migraine steals a lot from you.


One of many challenges Mira’s physicians confronted was deciding which drugs and different therapies to prescribe to an adolescent. Drug firms have been releasing a gentle stream of latest remedies for migraine complications, and researchers promise extra are on the way in which quickly. This is what works for kids, what hasn’t but been permitted to be used with minors, and how one can diagnose migraines within the first place, from consultants at among the nation’s main pediatric headache facilities.

Migraine impacts about 10% of kids, in response to the American Migraine Basis. The complications can strike kids as early as age 3 or 4 years, mentioned Robert Little, MD, a pediatric neurologist at Phoenix Kids’s Hospital.

Earlier than puberty, boys report extra migraine assaults than women, in response to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However that reverses in adolescence: By age 17, as many as 8% of boys and 23% of ladies have had migraine. To diagnose migraine, Juliana H. VanderPluym, MD, affiliate professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, mentioned she makes use of the factors printed within the newest version of the Worldwide Classification of Headache Problems (ICHD): A affected person will need to have had not less than 5 assaults of their life; and in kids and adolescents, the assaults should final a minimum of 2 hours.

As well as, the complications ought to exhibit not less than two out of 4 options:

1. Happen extra on one facet of the top than the opposite (though VanderPluym mentioned in kids and adolescents complications typically are bilateral).

2. Be of average to extreme depth.

3. Have a pounding or throbbing high quality.

4. Develop worse with exercise or trigger an avoidance of exercise.

If the assaults meet these standards, clinicians ought to test to see in the event that they meet not less than one out of the 2 following:

1. Are delicate to gentle and sounds.

2. Are related to nausea and/or vomiting.

A clinician ought to contemplate whether or not the complications are usually not higher accounted for by one other analysis, in response to the ICHD standards. However, VanderPluym warned that doesn’t essentially imply operating a slew of exams.

“Within the absence of crimson flag options, it’s greater than probably going to be migraine headache,” she mentioned. That is very true if a toddler has a household historical past of migraine, because the situation is usually handed down from mum or dad to baby.

In the end, the analysis is pretty easy and might be made in a minute or much less, mentioned Jack Gladstein, MD, a pediatrician on the College of Maryland whose analysis focuses on the medical care of kids and adolescents with headache.

“Migraine is acute,” Gladstein mentioned. “It is actually unhealthy. And it is recurrent.”

First Line of Remedy

No matter a affected person takes to deal with a migraine, they need to hit it early and exhausting, Gladstein mentioned.

“The very first thing you say, as a major care doctor, is deal with your migraine at first twinge, no matter you employ. Do not wait, do not want it away,” he mentioned. “The longer you wait, the much less probability something will work.”

The second piece of recommendation, Gladstein mentioned, is that no matter drug a affected person is taking, they need to be on the best possible dose. “Work as quick as you possibly can to deal with them. You need the mind to reset as shortly as you possibly can,” he mentioned.

One other migraine remedy not too long ago permitted for kids aged 12 and older is the usage of neurostimulators. “It is useful to pay attention to them,” VanderPluym mentioned.

Nevertheless, if neurostimulators and acute drugs show inadequate, clinicians ought to warn sufferers to not up their doses of triptans. Rebound complications can happen if sufferers take triptans greater than twice per week, or a most 10 days monthly.

One other risk is so as to add a preventive remedy. One delicate, first possibility is nutraceuticals, like riboflavin (vitamin B2) or magnesium, mentioned Anisa F. Kelley, MD, a neurologist and affiliate director of the headache program on the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Kids’s Hospital of Chicago.

“We do not have definitive proof, however they’re most likely doing extra profit than they’re hurt,” Kelley mentioned of those therapies. “In sufferers who’ve anyplace from 4 to eight migraine days a month, the place you are in that in-between interval the place you do not essentially want a [prescription] prophylactic, I’ll typically begin with a nutraceutical,” Kelley mentioned.

For these sufferers who do not reply to nutraceuticals, or who want extra help, clinicians can prescribe amitriptyline or topiramate. VanderPluym mentioned.

A 2017 research discovered such prophylactics to be no more practical than placebo in pediatric migraine sufferers, however consultants warning the outcomes shouldn’t be thought-about definitive.

For one factor, the research enrolled a extremely selective group of members, with milder types of migraine who might have improved anyway, VanderPluym mentioned. All members additionally obtained life-style counseling.

Each time members got here in for a follow-up, they had been requested questions comparable to how a lot water had been they consuming and the way a lot sleep had been they getting, Kelley famous. The takeaway, she mentioned: “Pediatric and adolescent migraine [management] may be very, very a lot reliant on life-style elements.”

Life-style Triggers

Clinicians ought to counsel their migraine sufferers about life-style adjustments, consultants mentioned. Getting satisfactory sleep, staying hydrated, and managing stress may also help cut back the depth and frequency of assaults.

Migraine sufferers must also be aware of their display screen time, Kelley added.

“I’ve had tons and plenty of sufferers who discover extreme display screen time will set off or worsen migraine,” she mentioned.

As for different potential triggers of assaults, the proof is blended.

“There’s clearly an affiliation with disrupted sleep and migraine, and that has been very nicely established,” Little mentioned. “And there may be some modest quantity of proof that common train might be useful.” However for reported meals triggers, he mentioned, there have been very inconclusive outcomes.

Generally reported triggers embody MSG, crimson wine, chocolate, and aged cheese. When Little’s sufferers preserve headache diaries, monitoring their meals alongside after they acquired migraine assaults, they typically uncover individualized triggers — strawberries, as an illustration, in a single case, he mentioned.

Scientists consider migraines outcome from the inappropriate activation of the trigeminal ganglion. “The query is, what causes it to get triggered? And the way does it get triggered?” Gladstein mentioned. “And that is the place there’s loads of distinction of opinion and no conclusive proof.” Clinicians additionally ought to be sure that one thing else — often despair, anxiousness, insomnia, and dizziness — isn’t hindering efficient migraine administration. “If somebody has horrible insomnia, till you deal with the insomnia, the complications aren’t going to get higher,” he mentioned.

As for Mira, her migraine assaults didn’t considerably enhance, regardless of attempting triptans, prophylactics, life-style adjustments, and photographs to dam nerve ache. When the complications threatened Mira’s probability to go to her promenade, her neurologist urged attempting one thing totally different. The doctor persuaded the household’s insurance coverage to cowl a calcitonin gene-related peptide antagonist, an injectable monoclonal antibody therapy for migraine that the FDA has presently permitted just for use in adults.

The distinction for Mira has been extraordinary.

“I can accomplish that rather more than I used to be in a position to do,” mentioned Mira, who attended the dance migraine free. “I really feel liberated.”

It is Solely Migraine

One of many best challenges in diagnosing migraine might be reassuring the affected person, the mother and father, even clinicians themselves that migraine actually is the reason for all this ache and discomfort, consultants mentioned.

“Numerous migraine therapy really comes all the way down to migraine schooling,” VanderPluym mentioned.

Sufferers and their mother and father typically surprise how they will ensure that this ache isn’t ensuing from one thing extra harmful than migraine, Little mentioned. In these circumstances, he cites apply tips printed by the American Academy of Neurology.

“The gist of these tips is that the majority pediatric sufferers don’t want additional workup,” he mentioned. “However I feel that there is all the time a concern that you simply’re lacking one thing as a result of we do not have a take a look at that we are able to do” for migraine.

Some warning indicators that additional exams could be warranted, Kelley mentioned, embody:

  • Complications that wake a affected person up in the midst of the evening.

  • Complications that begin very first thing within the morning, particularly people who embody vomiting.

  • A headache sample that all of the sudden will get a lot worse.

  • Sure signs that accompany the headache, comparable to tingling, numbness or double imaginative and prescient.

Though all of those indicators can nonetheless stem from migraines — tingling or numbness, as an illustration, might be indicators of migraine aura — operating extra exams can rule out extra severe issues, she mentioned.

This story initially appeared on, a part of the Medscape Skilled Community.