Chronic migraines do happen in our youngest patients

Chronic migraines do happen in our youngest patients

Article by Sue Elvins
June 13, 2013

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, it is common for someone to have their first migraine before turning 12-years of age. Statistics show 10% of children who are old enough to attend school can experience migraines. Another interesting factor is the male gender can have a higher amount of migraines more than the female gender before reaching the puberty stage.

The Migraine Research Foundation points out chronic migraines are quite difficult to be recognized in children because of the symptoms that follow along with them. For example, in most cases, a chronic migraine will have nausea and anxiety. In the journal of Pediatric Migraine, Dr. Donald W. Lewis spoke of migraines in children and as to how they are treated.  According to Dr. Lewis, “Accurate diagnosis and aggressive treatment interventions during childhood and adolescence are essential to prevent the decades of suffering and diminished quality of life that are directly attributable to migraine.” (Lewis, 2009) Lewis does clearly make the point it is difficult to diagnose migraines in children due to the challenges that must be dealt with.

A perfect example Dr. Lewis provided was something that could look similar to the migraine but is actually not. Those types of items add more difficulty when building a patient case study and attempting to make everything perfect. Upon research of the children migraines, it is discovered there are similarities and differences between them and the adult-type migraines. An interesting point Dr. Lewis did speak on is that children do have difficulty in describing his or her feelings accurately when being asked about migraine pain.  According to Lewis, a specific migraine classification is considered for children and adolescents. The Figure A migraine chart shows a visual of children migraine types and the migraine symptoms that take place with each type of migraine. Keep in mind even though children and adults may have similarities in some areas of chronic migraines, there are differences in others.

A bizarre term called “Alice in Wonderland” is given to the symptoms children feel when experiencing auras prior to experiencing a migraine. The reason for this term is to express the various hallucinations a patient can experience prior to a migraine. During the continuous research, each migraine has various trigger formations and it is being discovered each migraine class can be closely related. Furthermore, each migraine can has different triggers and different symptoms just as each patient is unique.

Something to be aware of is symptoms listed are carried from the journal notes of Dr. Lewis, thus every patient will vary. With that being said, further studies have proven more patients are experiencing new symptoms take place so it is important to keep in touch with your family doctor and migraine specialist to ensure the best health care possible.

Figure A Migraine Chart

Children Migraines

Children Migraines


Lewis, D. W. (2009). Pediatric migraineNeurologic clinics27(2), 481-501


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