A migraine attack is often confused with other illnesses as these children are not capable of explaining the trigger factors and the location of the pain. It can be relatively tough for the parent to describe the details to the physician and only a thorough diagnosis will help to get to the root cause and cure the illness.
There are many known symptoms associated with migraine attacks, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, fear, blurred vision, sweating, pain, vomiting and nausea, and sleep disturbance. Commonly reported symptoms of migraine headaches in children are nausea with a dull and aching pain and a feeling of tightness and pressure in the forehead. A specific course of treatment tailored to the child’s needs is very essential.1 2
Signs Of A Migraine In Children
1. Nausea And Vomiting
Migraines are severe headaches that can take a toll on both the physical and psychological well-being of children. Nausea and vomiting are the most prevalent symptoms of a migraine attack. The excruciating pain can trigger nervous vomiting as well, even if they haven’t eaten anything. These migraine attacks are often also linked to motion sickness.3
An abdominal migraine, a migraine-related disorder, is identified through gastrointestinal symptoms that occur repeatedly in children just before the onset of a headache and sometimes not even accompanied by a headache. Cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is another abdominal disorder that is characterized by frequent episodes of vomiting and dizziness. Sleep is the most efficient remedy to reduce symptoms like nausea and fatigue.4
2. Visual Disturbances And Hallucinations
Visual disturbance can often accompany a headache indicating the severity of the migraine attack. These visual symptoms tend to be unique to each child and hence cannot be compared with the symptoms of other children. The affected child may see spots, have blurred vision, or hallucinate during an episode of a severe headache.
This symptom severely affects school-going children as they cannot concentrate on their academics. Such hallucinations affect the emotional health of the child to a great extent as they instill a constant fear of uncommon events that seem to happen out of nowhere.5
3. Fear Of Pain And Failure
Children with migraines are constantly in fear of failing at school, are disappointed, and show extremely low confidence. They also live in the fear of excruciating pain that is usually common in a migraine attack, which leaves them disabled for a period of time. The fear of pain triggers a sense of insecurity, constant stress, and depression affecting the development and health of the children.
Instilling the confidence and providing measures to assess and tackle the fear in children is found to be effective. This can be done by engaging them in daily activities and boosting their self-confidence by not setting them aside.6
4. Sleep Disturbances
Children with a migraine experience greater sleep disturbances. These disturbances may cause the children to miss school and lead to greater behavioral problems. Restless sleep and nightmares are prevalent in the sleep routines of such children.
Sleep disturbances include excessive daytime sleepiness, narcolepsy, and insomnia. Narcolepsy associated with migraines often causes severe fatigue and restlessness. Sleep management and treatment for regularizing the sleep habits and routines can greatly reduce the headache symptoms.7
5. Excessive Sweating With Vertigo
Affected children will look pale, lose their balance, and can even pass out with excessive sweating when they experience a migraine attack. Some may experience seizures in rare cases. Profuse sweating can cause panic symptoms during a migraine attack. A migraine associated with panic attacks causes serious emotional disturbances and can impair the quality of life. Such symptoms of a migraine require a specific therapeutic approach involving cognitive and behavioral therapy.8
Migraines are a severe problem for kids and their parents and are to be treated on time by avoiding triggers and with prompt medical care. Treatment with a regular bedtime routine, avoiding certain foods and situations, and analgesics can help alleviate the symptoms of a migraine in children.
|↑1||Mack, Kenneth J. “Episodic and chronic migraine in children.” In Seminars in neurology, vol. 26, no. 02, pp. 223-231. Copyright© 2006 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA., 2006.|
|↑2||Hämäläinen, Mirja L. “Migraine in Children.” CNS drugs 10, no. 2 (1998): 105-117.|
|↑3||Lee, Lai H., and Karen N. Olness. “Clinical and demographic characteristics of migraine in urban children.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 37, no. 5 (1997): 269-276.|
|↑4||Li, B. U. K., Robert D. Murray, Leo A. Heitlinger, Jennifer L. Robbins, and John R. Hayes. “Is cyclic vomiting syndrome related to migraine?.” The Journal of pediatrics 134, no. 5 (1999): 567-572.|
|↑5||Hachinski, V. C., J. Porchawka, and J. C. Steele. “Visual symptoms in the migraine syndrome.” Neurology 23, no. 6 (1973): 570-570.|
|↑6||Simons, Laura E., Christine B. Sieberg, Elizabeth Carpino, Deirdre Logan, and Charles Berde. “The Fear of Pain Questionnaire (FOPQ): assessment of pain-related fear among children and adolescents with chronic pain.” The Journal of Pain 12, no. 6 (2011): 677-686.|
|↑7||Heng, Kenneth, and Elaine Wirrell. “Sleep disturbance in children with migraine.” Journal of Child Neurology 21, no. 9 (2006): 761-766.|
|↑8||Thilothammal, N, Margaret Chellaraj, and K. Banu. “Migraine in children.” Indian pediatrics 31 (1994): 1503.|